KUALA LANGAT: European Union (EU) countries that are vilifying palm oil are trying to impoverish the nation and it is time for Malaysia to retaliate, says Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
“There is a war on our palm oil and we have to retaliate because we have to protect our country’s wealth,’’ he said.
He accused the EU countries of “feigning” concern for wildlife and the environment when in actual fact their main concern was the tough competition given by Malaysian palm oil towards edible oil produced by those countries.
“Palm oil is cheap as opposed to the oil they sell like soy oil. The truth is their oil cannot compete with our palm oil as we can get oil for 25 years once planted.
“But their crops like soy have to be planted yearly as they can get oil only once (per crop),” said Dr Mahathir at the launch of the Love MY Palm Oil campaign organised by the Primary Industries Ministry at Sime Darby Plantations in Carey Island near here yesterday.
He also said it was unfair for the EU countries to affix labels on food products to state that they were palm oil-free and hence safe for consumption.
According to Dr Mahathir, Malaysia could retaliate by not purchasing certain products from these countries.
As an example, he said Malaysia could buy fighter jets from China instead as their country’s technology was on par with European technology.
Later at a press conference, Dr Mahathir said he was not promoting Chinese products but merely pointing out that there are other countries, and not only EU nations, to source for purchases such as planes.
“If they keep on taking action against us and trying to impoverish us, we will have to think of buying airplanes from other countries,’’ he said, adding Malaysia did not need sophisticated planes but small aircraft like the Cessna.
He acknowledged that Malaysia could not fully boycott European products as the country still needed some goods from these countries.
“We have many options to buy from elsewhere. We’re not buying a lot of fighter planes because we are not a war-like people.
“If anybody attacks us, we surrender,’’ he joked.
Dr Mahathir said the EU propaganda would adversely affect the global sale of palm oil.
Some 600,000 Malaysians employed in the industry would lose their jobs if oil palm plantations were shut down, he said.
“They want to sacrifice poor Malaysians to protect the animals they profess to care for,” said Dr Mahathir.
If they do not want to buy palm oil, he said these countries should just say so instead of making baseless allegations.
He said these countries also felt threatened as Malaysia is producing biofuel with palm oil for diesel vehicles.
Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok said in her speech that Malaysia had taken various measures to protect the environment and wildlife while continuing to produce palm oil.
“We will be planting 1,000,000 forest trees in Sabah within the next 10 years.
“We want to tell the European countries that we are planting trees and ask them ‘how many trees have you planted?’,’’ she said.
She said other measures included planting seeds that would have greater yield instead of just increasing the number of trees planted.
Other measures are not planting oil palm on peat soil as well as decreasing the land size of oil palm plantations.
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