I REFER to the report, “Teresa Kok and Shafie Apdal discuss sustainable palm oil and timber industries” (The Star, Sept 20).
It is encouraging to see the new Primary Industries MInister, Teresa Kok, to be very engaged in moving the Malaysian palm oil industry on the road to achieving Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) standards.
However, in view of the European Union and palm oil issues, I would like to ask how confident are we that MSPO standards are meeting marketplace standards in importing countries?
The same concern is also raised in a report on the comparison between the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and MSPO certification schemes and an assessment of the MSPO certification scheme released by WWF Malaysia on April 16 this year.
New oil palm development on peatland is one of the key topics being discussed by the EU, but MSPO standards address only sustainable cultivation on peatland, not deforestation on peat forest.
Secondly, MSPO does not allow planting on land with high biodiversity value unless it is carried out in compliance with national or state biodiversity legislation.
This does not fully address the “No Deforestation” issue, especially when land matters fall under state jurisdiction and a huge amount of forest reserve is being de-gazetted.
Therefore, I would say that it is hopeful to see that we are moving towards MSPO.
However, as per the Pakatan Harapan Promise 39, this needs to be reviewed and benchmarked against International Best Practices. As a concerned citizen, I must ask, “How can we take into account the requirements of importing countries while envisioning a sustainable future for our palm oil industry?”
HILARY KUNG SIEW HWEI