HAS anyone actually watched the video of the so called “anti-palm oil concert”? If you haven’t, here are some quotes from the actual performance by children who are in the third grade.
“If we don’t do something about this now, and ensure all palm oil is sustainably grown, within 10 years these beautiful creatures could be gone from our world forever (reference to the orang utans).”
Unfortunately, the conversation has been steered in many different directions, including freedom of speech in institutions and sustainability of palm oil.
But more pressing (and alarming) is how Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok perceived the show.
With all due respect to the minister concerned, the children are actually on her side, as their performance does not sow “hatred” against palm oil.
There was no “anti-palm oil” agenda being propagated by them. If anything, they were supporting the ministry’s various programmes to ensure sustainability of the oil palm industry!
What’s worse is the escalation of the issue with the Education Ministry intending to probe the performance.
Context is key, and the performance was part of a larger assembly by the pupils to raise awareness on environmental conservation. How it was perceived as “anti-palm oil” calls into question the ability of these officials to comprehend the issue at hand.
The school did not decide to have an assembly to “attack” the palm oil industry. Assemblies are held on a weekly basis, usually planned by the students with a teacher in an advisory role. The concert was about raising awareness on environmental conservation.
In Malaysia, the estimated population of the Malayan tiger now is between 250 and 340, whereas the pre-2010 number was 500. Protecting our animals is a message Malaysians should all get behind.
In this day and age, it seems individuals prefer to react quickly before considering the source and larger context of the issue at hand. Spurred by the need to comment and react, they fail to investigate and view the bigger picture.
This is common among some social media users who are quick to judge and feel strongly about an issue which they don’t even have a clear picture of in the first place.
But it is extremely disappointing for an elected official to jump to conclusions and fail to perceive the larger issues at hand.