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Thursday, November 30, 2017

Sabah CM urges EU to stop campaign against palm oil



Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman has urged European Union member countries to stop its ongoing campaign against the oil palm industry.
He said it was rather unfortunate that some of the EU member countries had painted a negative image in an attempt to boycott the industry.
Those who were against the industry must realise that Malaysia has 680,000 oil palm smallholders, of whom 200,000 are from Sabah, that happens to be the largest producer of crude palm oil (CPO) in the country, he claimed.
“A negative campaign or boycott could affect global CPO prices. What is going to happen to these smallholders whose livelihoods depend on oil palm?
“This could mean loss of income for them and their families,” he said during a courtesy call by a 14-member EU Delegation of Ambassadors led by ambassador and head of delegation of the EU to Malaysia, Maria Castillo Fernandez, at his office in Kota Kinabalu today.


Musa (photo), who is also the state finance minister, said the Sabah government had taken steps to ensure the oil palm industry continued to be sustainable, which included the launch of a programme in 2015 to have all CPO produced from Sabah to be Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO).
In that endeavour, he said the Sabah government had the support of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) to guide the CSPO process, and hoped the EU member countries could keep an open mind on the matter.
Musa further said that Sabah adopted one of the best forest management and environmental conservation practices in this region.
The state government has gazetted 26 percent of its total land mass as totally protected areas, which exceeded the International Union for Conservation of Nature target of only 10 per cent.
“We are actually targeting 30 percent or 2.2 million hectares, which we are confident of achieving in the next five years, if not earlier,” he said.
The chief minister said it must also be noted that Sabah had restored and planted forests well over 700,000ha, presumably the largest such undertaking in the tropics.
“I must tell you the Sabah story on forest management, so you can tell it to your European communities...concerted efforts with concrete results are being made and this must be made known to the world,” he stressed.
He also informed the delegation of the state government’s close ties with the federal government under the leadership of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, who continued to focus on the needs of Sabah in terms of allocations to fund development initiatives.
Musa looked forward to continue cooperation with the EU countries in terms of trade, investment, tourism and culture, alluding to the EU film festival that was launch this evening.
Meanwhile, Fernandez assured Musa there was no official boycott against the oil palm industry by EU member countries, but that there was a debate on the issue of oil palm and deforestation.
“We want to reach out to the stakeholders in Malaysia and engage in a dialogue to better understand the industry so we can explain it to the European communities,” she said.
French Ambassador to Malaysia, Frederic Laplanche said the good work done on forest conservation in Sabah must be acknowledged, in which the state had been forward-looking and deserved the EU support in the spirit of cooperation.
- Bernama

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