Recently Primary Industries Minister, Mdm Teresa Kok praise the United Kingdom advertising body, Clearcast, for banning a video depicting an orang utan in a little girl’s room allegedly due to the destruction of forest. The Sarawak Oil Palm Plantation Owners Association (SOPPOA) fully supports the Primary Industries Minister’s initiative on the ban of the video which was unfair, misleading with disputable and unproven claims about the palm oil industry in Malaysia.
As for orang utans, these animals are only found in Sabah and Sarawak where they are thriving and living in protected forests. In Sarawak, the state government has added another 60,000 hectares to the Heart of Borneo conservation area to its 2.7 million ha in 2018 where orang utans are known to be living there. This and another 60 other totally protected areas including national parks, nature reserves and sanctuaries covering over 788,886 ha proved that these animals and flora species are well conserved in the state. The Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre in Sabah covers an area of 4,294 ha with another 43,800 ha conservation area of the Danum Valley where orang utans are totally protected. In total almost 4 million ha of protected forests are being set aside for the orang utans in Malaysia, the largest protected area for any species in the country and that is clear testimony Malaysia fully protects orang utans and their habitats. In fact, the protected area is even larger than the whole of London and many other cities in UK put together.
Incidentally, should a few reported incidences outside Malaysia of orang utan habitat destruction be representative of the whole palm oil industry? Similarly, we do not equate a few isolated incidences of child abuses in UK as representative of the whole population of the UK as child abusers. As such it is most unethical and inhumane for any organization to continuously make use of orang utans to demonize palm oil internationally. In Malaysia alone, more than 650,000 small farmers and their families depend on oil palm cultivation as their main livelihoods and unethical campaigns such as these threaten the lives of millions of others directly and indirectly involved in the palm oil industry.
Due the ease with which anyone can now share videos and other news items, it appears that just about anyone, with little to no knowledge of the palm oil industry, can just put out negative aspects of the industry without checking facts or truths; in fact, truths now seem less important than sensational news. Similarly, a local group, PEKA which stated that the Primary Industries Minister was uninformed, is clearly ignorant of facts and talking without checks on the matter. In fact, MEOA (Malaysia Estate Owners Association) press release (www.thestar.com.my/opinion/letters/2018/11/24), (www.theedgemarkets.com/article/22Nov 2018), PEMANDU Associates (www.thestar.com.my/opinion/letters/2018/11/20) and The Star (www.thestar.com.my/opinion/columnists/thestar-says/2018/11/18) have all clearly opinioned on the same matter and fully supporting the minister’s move. All the controversies stirred up by the old video was certainly for nothing as facts about orang utan conservations in Malaysia have proved to be indisputable and internationally accepted.