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Appointments to councils in MPOB, MPOC one-sided affairs

Saturday, 22 August 2020

Keeping Sarawak Oil Palm Plantations Owners Association (SOPPOA) out of the Federal Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) and Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) for the term 2020-2022 will not bring any benefit to the plantations in Sarawak or Malaysia. The fully integrated oil plantation and farmers of Sarawak account for almost 30% of the total oil palm planted land hectarage in Malaysia or more than 58% if combined with Sabah and there is no significant presence of East Malaysian planting associations representatives in these two decisions making Boards for this sector. This will render the MPOB and MPOC bodies although appear filled up with council members but in reality, not fully represented in the absence of the established plantation Associations from East Malaysia and lacking judicial stakeholder’s quorum for important decisions making for the country’s second biggest economy and revenue for the Government.

To put it in another context – peninsula Malaysia plantations only accounts for less than 50% of estates, mills and refineries but yet appointed in all these councils’ seats along with some individuals which clearly eliminate the sizable East Malaysian plantation factor. It is also widely known that oil palms grown in Sarawak, the growth frontier of the palm oil industry in Malaysia, perform differently than others states due to its low yields, low OER, pests & diseases, nutrition, peat soil, planting materials, rough terrains, high rainfalls and logistics issues. As a voice in these Councils from Sarawak will be pertinent and timely to address these important issues affecting growth and sustainability of the industry in Sarawak. Meanwhile, MPOB cess, Government duties, levies and taxes from the palm oil industry in Sarawak are efficiently collected without delay; several appeals to the authorities for representatives in these Boards are not responded in good faith. SOPPOA is still waiting to be allocated seats in MPOB and MPOC Councils which previously were provided by the Federal Government in 2012-2018, as inclusive councils.

SOPPOA, still a strong partner of MPIC and its agencies and being the main oil palm plantation association in Sarawak, is one of the major contributors to the Government’s revenue, running into hundreds of millions ringgits a year even during current Covid-19 pandemic, is much aggrieved by such unreasonable omissions to these boards. Until and when this major grievance is rectified, there may even be a need for this disparity to be further addressed to the honourable Yang Amat Berhormat Prime Minister of Malaysia for his guidance. The other alternative left is for SOPPOA to propose to the State Government to form Sarawak’s own Board with similar roles and support functions and utilizing Ministry of Finance’s financial resources collected from duties, taxes, cess and levies contributed by Sarawak palm oil industry if no further developments are made in relation to the appointment of representatives to the MPOB, MPOC Boards.