Smallholders protest law that tarnish palm oil

This is written by my colleague Zaidi Isham Ismail.

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian oil palm smallholders held a peaceful protest against the Australian government yesterday, for proposing a law that will tarnish palm oil as an ingredient produced at the expense of tropical deforestation by labelling it on food products.

Oil palm smallholders protesting outside the Australian High Commission against the Truth in Labelling Palm Oil Bill, which is being proposed in the Australian Senate. — NST picture by Zulfadhli Zulkifli
National Association of Smallholders president Datuk Aliasak Ambia said they were making their voice heard as the labelling might affect the livelihood of more than 240,000 smallholders and their one million family members who depend on the commodity.

"We are not against the Australian government but we are against the labelling which discriminates palm oil against other vegetable oils. Why just label palm oil? What about other vegetable oils?"

The Australian Senate is proposing the Truth in Labelling Palm Oil Bill, which was mooted by independent senator Nick Xenophon in late 2009.

The new law seeks to amend current guidelines used by the Food Standards Australia New Zealand to require food manufactures to list palm oil in their food labels. The Food Standards Australia New Zealand is a bi-national government agency responsible for developing and administering the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code, which lists requirements for foods such as additives, safety, labelling and genetically-modified foods.

However, last month, the Community Affairs and Legislative Committee of the Australian Senate in Canberra recommended that the bill not be passed.

During the protest, Aliasak handed over a memorandum and an open letter to the Australian High Commission's economic and social counsellor, Juliana Nam, and attended a 30-minute closed-door meeting with the support of 150 smallholders outside.

Aliasak said the bill, if passed, would affect smallholders' livelihoods and stump Malaysia's RM297 million replanting programme for this year.

The government had identified the oil palm sector as one of the National Key Economic Areas under the Economic Transformation Programme to transform the country into a high-income nation.

4 Responses to Smallholders protest law that tarnish palm oil

  1. Every year, Australian farmers shamelessly kill kangaroos. We should boycott Australian wheat and rapeseed cooking oil!!!

  2. KANGAROOS ARE FAR FROM ENDANGERED, ORANGUTANGS ARE NEARLYY EXTINCT!! EVERY TREE THAT IS CUT DOWN KILLS MORE AND MORE OF THEM. I DONT WANT A WORLD WITHOUT ORANGUTANGS! ITS DISGUSTING.

  3. amyschwartz seems so passionate about orangutans, yet she don't even know how to spell orangutans.

    How about putting money where your mouth is?

    amyschwartz, You are most welcome to donate your $$$ to the Sarawak government for upkeep of wildlife sanctuaries there.

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