Monday, 8 October 2007

Self regulate, to counter anti-palm oil lobby, says state minister

Thursday October 4, 2007

Self regulate, to counter anti-palm oil lobby, says state minister

SANDAKAN/MALAYSIA: Oil palm companies in the east Asean growth area must adopt "self regulation" through sustainable development to counter the anti-palm oil lobby.

State Industrial Development Minister Datuk Ewon Ebin said that it was necessary for them to implement sustainable oil palm development on their own to counter campaigns by the lobby that rainforests were being destroyed and the habitats of orang utans were being wiped out.

"The best regulation is self-regulation. I don't think we like the idea that one day some foreign pressure group dictates how we should grow our oil palm.

"We might find ourselves compelled to follow what they say because our palm oil depends on foreign markets," Ewon said.

He was speaking at the opening of the Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines - East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) oil palm stake holders forum here.

He said the BIMP-EAGA grouping with some help from institutions like the Asian Development Bank could send a "loud and clear" message that sustainability is the key to the longevity of the oil palm industry.

Ewon noted that the oil palm industry has been the subject of intense negative campaign for many years, but Malaysia and Indonesia have successfully defended the industry.

"It remains a serious irritant. From misleading the public about the nutritional qualities of palm oil, the lobbyists have now turned their focus on the issues of sustainability and alleged destruction of rainforests and orang utan habitats by oil palm companies," he said.

"Pollution affects you and me. Climate change will not pick and choose which country to impact. We owe it to ourselves to self-regulate so that our oil palm industry will be accepted by the world, and we play our role as citizens of this earth to preserve it for our future generations," he added.

He said oil palm stake holders should look into the industry's diverse environmental challenges.
They included land clearing, displacement of people and animals, extinction of species, effluent discharge, clean development mechanism, emission reduction and oil spills in ports and harbours.

"We are the producing and exporting countries and have no alternative but to live by sustainability," he said at the forum organised by POIC Sabah.