KUALA LUMPUR: Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok was asked what action has been taken to protect some 600,000 oil palm smallholders following tense relations between Malaysia and India.
Ayer Hitam MP Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong said that although the call to boycott Malaysian palm oil did not officially come from the government, it was aired on one of the television stations supported by the Indian government.
"This will bring some serious implications. I would like to ask what are the measures taken by the Primary Industries Ministry or the government to resolve the mess as there were also protests against the Prime Minister's recent remarks at the United Nations (General Assembly)," the MCA president said during the winding up of points raised for ministries in Budget 2020.
On Oct 22, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said he would not retract his criticism of New Delhi's action in the disputed region of Kashmir despite calls for a boycott of Malaysian palm oil by Indian traders.
Dr Wee also asked what concrete steps are being taken by the ministry to improve the soybean trade following talks between China and the United States.
"The US and China are having talks on this and if we look at our neighbour, Indonesia, they are offering a cheaper price compared to us
"China noticed there are more incentives from Indonesia. How is the ministry planning to come up with a solution in this global trade war," he said.
Dr Wee also wanted to know the aid given to small oil palm farmers following concerns over a hike in prices of fertiliser and pesticides.
"The cost to produce palm oil is different in the last 18 months due to the increase in the price of fertiliser and pesticides, which has caused those on the ground to suffer.
"What are the steps being taken to help prevent them from suffering? "he asked.
Kok said her ministry had engaged with palm oil producing countries through proper diplomatic channels.
"This is all happening in 2019 and we have yet to see the impact.
"I agree that we need to improve relations between Malaysia and India and all stakeholders, including industry players and other ministries, are playing their part.
"Please be patient. We are not making any moves that are detrimental to the country," she said.