ICYMI: Malaysia to Review Trade with Countries Supporting Palm Oil Ban

Following a Cabinet-level decision chaired by the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, the Malaysian Government has decided to review trade with the European Union should the Council of the EU approve the ban on Palm Oil biofuels.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi stated: “During last week cabinet meeting which was chaired by the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, the government decided that it will review the purchase of products with any countries that banned palm oil.”  Read the full comments from the Deputy Prime Minister here.

The announcement of the Cabinet-decision was followed by yet another signal to Europe’s power brokers when Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein made it clear he would raise the proposed ban on Palm Oil biofuels with his French counterpart, Florence Parly, when they meet today in Kuala Lumpur.

These comments come in the wake of a massive street protest in Kuala Lumpur where 300,000 petitions were delivered to the EU by Malaysia’s small farmers.  Recently, the Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities, Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong, stated at the time Malaysia was readying itself to retaliate, if necessary. “If these hate campaigns and discriminatory policy against palm oil were to go on, we can also retaliate. Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand are collectively big purchasers of EU products.”

Statement from Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong, Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities, Government of Malaysia

Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities, Mah Siew Keong, released the following statement, after the EU Parliament voted in Strasbourg to ban all Palm Oil biofuels, as part of the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive (RED):

  1. The vote by the EU Parliament to exclude Palm Oil biofuels from the EU’s renewable energy future is a wholly unjustified blockade against Malaysian farmers, families and communities.
  2. The EU Parliament’s plan would allow all other oilseed crops to continue operating under the RED, whereas Palm Oil will be excluded. This is a clear case of discrimination against Palm Oil producing countries. The EU is practising a form of Crop Apartheid.
  3. The Malaysian Government views this as an unacceptable and protectionist trade barrier, and a breach of the EU’s WTO commitments. We will not hesitate to take corrective action. The EU Parliament’s decision to discriminate against Palm Oil biofuels will negatively impact European trade and cooperation in Malaysia, and the wider South East Asian region.
  4. We urge European Governments, and the Council of the EU, to reject the EU Parliament’s position on Palm Oil biofuels. The Parliament’s blockade will place at risk the work of the Council of the EU in creating European jobs and expanding bilateral trade and other strategic interests in South-East Asia.
  5. The EU Parliament’s allegations relating to Malaysian Palm Oil’s environmental impact are demonstrably false. Malaysia has one of the most advanced forest protection regimes in the world, as recognised by the United Nations and the World Bank, among others. Malaysia’s forest protection is vastly superior to that of almost every EU Member State.
  6. Malaysian Palm Oil exporters are able to meet the strictest standards of sustainability required by our European customers, and Malaysian Palm Oil biofuel exporters have been certified as sustainable by leading European sustainability schemes, including the German ISCC (International Sustainability and Carbon Certification), as recognised by the EU Commission.
  7. Malaysia has proven world-leading sustainable palm oil practices, as confirmed by the EU Commission’s own recognised sustainability schemes. The EU Parliament’s attempt to denigrate Malaysia is insulting and has no basis in fact.
  8. The Malaysian Government will take any action necessary to protect the rights of 650,000 Malaysian Palm Oil small farmers, and to secure the future of the Palm Oil sector that has lifted millions of Malaysians out of poverty. Protectionist discrimination against Malaysian Palm Oil exports will not be tolerated.

Notes to Editors:

  1. Malaysian Palm Oil is responsible for RM70bn (€14.5bn) in annual export revenue; and around 7.5 per cent of all Malaysian exports.
  2. 39 per cent of all oil palm plantations in Malaysia are cultivated by small farmers. Palm oil programme have lifted millions of Malaysians out of poverty[1].
  3. EU exports to Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand, total over €40billion annually[2].
  4. Malaysia’s forest cover is over 50 per cent, as reported in the UNFAO Global Forest Resources Assessment[3]

[1] Ragayah, Haji Mat Zin (2013). The New Economic Policy and Poverty Eradication. In Terence Gomez and Johan Saravanamuttu (eds). The New Economic Policy in Malaysia: Affirmative Action, Ethnic Inequalities and Social Justice. Singapore, NUS Press.

[2]Malaysia,” European Commission, 16 March 2017 ; Indonesia,” European Commission, 16 March 2017; Thailand,” European Commission, 16 March 2017.

[3] United Nations FAO: http://www.fao.org/3/a-i4808e.pdf

Malaysian Oil Palm Smallholders Protest Europe’s “Crop Apartheid”

Thousands of Smallholders March Outside EU Embassy in Downtown Kuala Lumpur

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, 16 January 2018 – In a massive show of opposition to the European Union’s efforts to impose a “Crop Apartheid” on Malaysian Palm Oil, Malaysia’s Oil Palm smallholders took to the streets of downtown Kuala Lumpur today to protest Europe’s proposed Palm Oil ban.

The EU’s planned ban on Palm Oil threatens 650,000 smallholders and over 3.2 million Malaysians who rely on the Palm Oil industry for their livelihoods. Rural communities across Malaysia would be devastated by the proposed restriction and thousands would be driven into poverty. The Malaysian Government has previously warned that if any ban on Palm Oil would be implemented by the EU, then the Malaysian Government would take the necessary actions in order to protect the rights and livelihoods of Malaysian smallholders.

Dato’ Haji Aliasak Bin Haji Ambia, President, National Association of Small Holders (NASH), said:

“Europe is imposing a “Crop Apartheid” on farmers from the developing world. This violates every United Nations treaty Europe has signed up for. We won’t forget neither will we allow this discrimination to continue.”

Tan Sri Shahrir Abdul Samad, Chairman of the Federal Land Development Authority (FELDA), said:

“The proposed EU ban on Palm Oil biofuels, under the Renewable Energy Directive, is discriminatory and must be removed. Over 112,000 FELDA smallholders in Malaysia will be harmed by this ban.”

Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas, Chairman, Sarawak Land Consolidation & Rehabilitation Authority (SALCRA), said:

Malaysia strongly condemns any actions by European politicians that will discriminate against our oil palm smallholders. The policies that the EU is proposing to introduce will harm Malaysia’s rural communities and reduce incomes for Malaysian families. These are consequences that we cannot accept.”

Dr Richard Mani Banda, President, Dayak Oil Palm Planters Association (DOPPA), said:

“Europe’s actions undermine the Indigenous communities of the Borneo.  This cuts off income from families to feed their children and send them to school with good supplies like the kids of Berlin and London have.  This is modern day colonialism.”

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Faces of Palm Oil is a joint project of the National Association of Small Holders (NASH), the Federal Land Development Authority (FELDA), the Dayak Oil Palm Planters Association (DOPPA), the Sarawak Land Consolidation and Rehabilitation Authority (SALCRA) and the Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) that seeks to advocate on behalf of Malaysian smallholders. To learn more, visit FacesOfPalmOil.org.

ICYMI: Minister: Asian Nations Are Ready to Retaliate Against EU Palm Oil Ban

Malaysian Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities, Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong reaffirmed the Malaysian Government’s stance that it will retaliate if the proposed EU Palm Oil ban comes into law, and outlined that other Asian nations will also join in the action.

The EU’s exports to Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand number more than €40 billion annually.

The Minister said:

“If these hate campaigns and discriminatory policy against palm oil were to go on, we can also retaliate. Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand are collectively big purchasers of EU products.

“Why is oil palm cultivation demonised when it is proven to be the most sustainable oil crop when compared to rapeseed and sunflower grown in the EU? … Why are our oil palm planters being discriminated? What we want are equal opportunities to trade our palm oil. Is that too much to ask?”

Read the full comments from the Minister here.

Malaysian small farmer leaders also condemned the EU’s proposed ban. Tan Sri Shahrir Abdul Samad, Chairman of the Federal Land Development Authority (FELDA), declared:

“This EU ban, if it is implemented, would cause significant harm to ordinary Malaysians, reducing the quality of life of our small farmers, and taking money out of the pockets of communities across Malaysia. We cannot allow this to happen.”

Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas, Chairman of the Sarawak Land Consolidation & Rehabilitation Authority (SALCRA), said:

“We must not take any chances: the livelihoods and incomes of tens of thousands of Sarawak’s small farmers are at stake. I urge all readers to join us in opposing the EU’s proposed ban on palm oil biofuels, which would undermine Sarawak’s agricultural success story”.

Professor Datuk Dr. Ahmad Ibrahim, Fellow at the Academy of Sciences Malaysia, UCSI University, also criticised the EU’s ban, writing:

“EU is among those that support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Clearly, the palm oil ban…is not a reflection of such support. The ban contradicts the first and important goal under SDGs, which is to reduce poverty. If this is not hypocrisy, I do not know what is”.

Malaysian Government Encourages Berlin to Support Malaysian Palm Oil; Put a Stop to the Biofuel Ban

While you were away for the New Year’s festivities, the Malaysian Minister for Plantation Industries and Commodities, Mah Siew Keong, authored an opinion editorial for the leading German business and financial newspaper, Handelsblatt.

Minister Mah Siew Keong writes that the European Parliament’s effort to ban Palm Oil biofuel will become a “poverty trap for 650,000 farmers” in Malaysia, and lead to a downward spiral for 3.2 million Malaysians.

Malaysia calls upon the German government to put a stop to the campaign by Brussels and the far-left to ban Palm Oil biofuels that will drive up poverty in South East Asia, and undermine Europe’s goals in the region.  Malaysia also reminds the German government of assurances provided to Malaysian Prime Minister Najib by Chancellor Merkel against the imposition of any form of discrimination against Palm Oil.

The Minister writes:

“In my country, smallholders own 39% of the acreage of oil palm. The “liquid gold” allows them a better life – with functioning infrastructure such as hospitals and schools. As a government, we know that sustainability and social standards are of fundamental importance in Germany. The same applies to Malaysia. With our own certification, the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil Standard (MSPO), we are a world leader.”

“EU certification is not the only threat: the proposed Renewable Energy Directive aims to banish palm oil as a source of energy. If that happens, political machinations in the European Parliament will become a poverty trap for 650,000 farmers. That is totally unacceptable! For many, the cultivation of palm oil is the only basis of life. Farmers’ efforts to help themselves should be rewarded and not punished in Brussels.”

Read the full op-ed from the Minister in Handelsblatt here.

Malaysian Government on Europe’s Proposed Ban on Palm Oil: “Crop Apartheid”

In today’s STAR, the Malaysian Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong wrote that the Malaysian Government will take retaliatory action if needed, in order to protect the rights and livelihoods of Malaysian small farmers, against the proposed EU ban on Palm Oil biofuels.

The Minister stated:

“Ironically, while it was a Frenchman, Henri Fauconnier, who planted the seeds that transformed into our economic behemoth, it is his fellow countrymen and other members of the European Union (EU) Parliament who are trying to cripple the livelihood of our smallholders and other Malaysian dependents”. 

“In a sequence of acts that is akin to crop apartheid, the EU Parliament has taken steps to raise trade barriers, leading to ultimate breach of the EU’s World Trade Organisation (WTO) commitments and effectively jeopardising the Malaysia-EU Free Trade Agreement negotiations”.

“We will continue to engage our critics and if there is a need to take protective and retaliatory action, we will do so without hesitation. I have also engaged my colleagues in Indonesia and via the Council of Palm Oil Producing Countries (CPOPC); we will ensure that our response to this concerted anti-palm oil campaign is structured and systematic”.

Read the full op-ed here.

FELDA Calls EU’s Proposed Ban on Palm Oil “Discriminatory”

FELDA joins Faces of Palm Oil campaign

Small farmers write to EU Energy Ministers criticizing EU ban

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – Today, the Malaysian Federal Land Development Authority (FELDA) condemned Europe’s campaign to ban Palm Oil, highlighting the discrimination by the EU against over 100,000 small farmers involved in FELDA cooperatives.

Tan Sri Shahrir Abdul Samad, Chairman of FELDA, issued the following statement:

“The proposed EU ban on Palm Oil biofuels, under the Renewable Energy Directive, is discriminatory and must be removed. The 112,635 FELDA small farmers in Malaysia, and their families, demand a clear and direct clarification from the EU, that Palm Oil biofuels will not be banned. The Malaysian palm oil industry is an economic lifeline for small farmers; it has lifted their families from poverty to prosperity. I will continue to defend the interest of our small farmer community and ensure justice for them in the global markets.”

On Monday, the 28 EU Energy Ministers of the Council met in Brussels. The meeting came as Dato’ Haji Aliasak Bin Haji Ambia, President of the National Association of SmallHolders (NASH) wrote to Europe’s Energy Ministers, stating “The proposed ban on Palm Oil biofuels is the worst kind of discrimination […] Rich country feedstocks will continue to be supported by MEPs; but poor small farmers in rural Malaysia will be shut out of the EU market.

The letter from Dato’ Aliasak highlights comments from the Malaysian Prime Minister, Dato’ Sri Najib Abdul Razak earlier in 2017, when the Prime Minister warned that “any boycott of Palm Oil would lead to retaliation”.

Faces of Palm Oil is a joint project of the National Association of Small Holders (NASH), the Federal Land Development Authority (FELDA), the Dayak Oil Palm Planters Association (DOPPA), the Sarawak Land Consolidation and Rehabilitation Authority (SALCRA) and the Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) that seeks to advocate on behalf of Malaysian small farmers. To learn more, visit FacesOfPalmOil.org.

Europe’s Attack Against Malaysian Small Farmers Unjust and Discriminatory

Small Farmers launch new campaign and digital ad

EU ban on Palm Oil sentences small farmers to a life of poverty

Europe’s actions threaten 3.2 million livelihoods; undermine UN Sustainable Development Goals

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – Malaysia’s Small Palm Oil Farmers have combined forces to condemn Europe’s effort to ban Palm Oil biofuels. The new campaign releases its first digital ad that will appear across Europe to highlight the EU’s unjust and discriminatory campaign to ban Palm Oil biofuels under the Renewable Energy Directive (RED). A ban on Palm Oil biofuels threatens to sentence 3.2 million Malaysians to a life of poverty. Malaysia’s Small Farmers demand the European Council reject the proposals of the European Parliament, and reaffirm Europe’s commitment to SE Asia, Malaysia and small Palm Oil farmers.

Dato’ Haji Aliasak Bin Haji Ambia, President of the National Association of SmallHolders (NASH) said:

“Palm Oil has allowed the rural poor in Malaysia to develop our own land, lift ourselves and our families out of poverty, and take control of our own economic destiny. An EU ban on Palm Oil biofuels is an all-out assault against the hundreds of thousands of small farmers across Malaysia. The EU will force farmers into poverty, if it bans Palm Oil. NASH and Malaysia’s small farmers will not stand by while Europeans attempt to sell commercial products to Malaysians with one hand, while cutting off our economic lifelines with the other hand. It is unacceptable behaviour: the Palm Oil ban must be stopped immediately.”

Faces of Palm Oil is a joint project of the National Association of Small Holders (NASH), the Federal Land Development Authority (FELDA), the Dayak Oil Palm Planters Association (DOPPA), the Sarawak Land Consolidation and Rehabilitation Authority (SALCRA) and the Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) that seeks to advocate on behalf of Malaysian small farmers. To learn more, visit FacesOfPalmOil.org.