Foremost, I would like to thank the Council members for electing me as the new Chairman following the AGM and Council meeting held in June 2021. In addition, I would also like to congratulate the newly elected Council members for the term 2021 -2023. Congratulations to all!
The new Office Bearers for SOPPOA 2021 -2023:
In my capacity as Chairman, I would like to continue the good work of the previous Chairmen over the past years in making SOPPOA the voice of the palm oil industry in Sarawak, Malaysia and internationally as well. Currently, the whole nation is faced with the Covid-19 pandemic which has affected many industries and also the palm oil industry in Sarawak; especially the shortage of foreign workers. We understand the need to safeguard the health and welfare of the people here in not opening the border for new foreign workers entry until the situation has stabilized. In view of this the palm oil industry here has resorted to more innovative ways in utilizing workers including using machineries and technologies to meet growing needs. We look forward to welcome new foreign workers who have the necessary vaccinations and health checks to enter the state in the near future when the international border can be open again.
I would like to also introduce SOPPOA’s new Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Felix Moh Mee Ho, PhD who joined in July 2021. Mr. Felix has served in various federal Ministries in Malaysia as well as managing estates in Sarawak prior to joining SOPPOA and as a local Sarikei born, he is well versed with the local situations in the state. At the same time I would also like to thank Mr. Andrew Cheng Mui Fah for his contributions to SOPPOA over the past two years in his capacity as Chief Executive Officer. We wish him the best for his future undertakings.
The start of 2021 has proven to be quite a blessing to the palm oil industry with current good prices for our commodity in the international market. It must also be remembered that there will periods of low prices coming as this cyclical process of high/low prices is part of the norm for commodities traded in the international market which necessitate us to save for the low periods expected to come. As a whole, SOPPOA members continue to increase productivity due mainly to maturing palms and increase in number of native smallholders crops which augur wells for the state and nation. SOPPOA will continue to identify ways to mutually increase members’ knowledge and skills in managing estates, mills and refineries through seminars, workshops and other platforms in the coming years to enable the palm oil industry in Sarawak to reach its potential for the benefits of all involved.
One major development for the palm oil industry in Sarawak is the coming launch of the Bursa Malaysia Derivatives’ East Malaysia Crude Palm Oil Futures (FEPO), expected to be in October 2021. This will enable crude palm oil (CPO) producers in Sarawak to sell CPO in the international market which potentially can save exporters the cost of transportations to Port Klang etc as well as discounts for East Malaysia CPO which is the current practice. On this note, I would like to thank Bursa Malaysia and the SOPPOA team for making this possible and likely to trust Sarawak’s presence in the commodities market more prominently in the coming years.
Also looking forward, SOPPOA is collaborating with recognized institutions to provide certification courses for the palm oil industry in Sarawak to enhance the skills and management of workers to increase productivity and to attract more locals to join the industry which has huge potentials for them with such certification skills sets. As the palm oil industry in Sarawak and Malaysia had adopted the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) certification scheme for its mandate to produce sustainable palm oil, SOPPOA is also committed to the conservation of nature habitats in Sarawak, especially in and around oil palm estates. On this matter, SOPPOA will be working closely with relevant State ministries and agencies to support activities on conservation of nature throughout Sarawak and these partnerships on joint conservation efforts will be announced to the public once the details are worked out.
I look forward to working closely with the new team of Council Members in SOPPOA to further the aims and aspirations of the association in the coming years as our combined experience and skills in the industry will enable us to achieve more. We also encourage members to interact more with us through our joint seminars and workshops as well as other avenues as we welcome views and opinions to drive forward to make SOPPOA more dynamic and comprehensive in its continuous growth and development.
Mr Eric Kiu Kwong Seng
Sarawak Oil Palm Plantation Owners Association (SOPPOA)