Honoured with ISP fellowships

SIBU: Three members of Incorporated Society of Planters (ISP) were named ‘Fellowship of ISP’ at the 10th ISP National Seminar 2013 held here recently.

Heading the list was Tan Sri Dato Seri Lee Oi Hian, who is chief executive officer of Kuala Lumpur Kepong Bhd. An Honours graduate of Agricultural Science from Universiti Malaya, Lee later pursued his Masters in Business Administration from Harvard Business School in the US.

The second ISP member called to fellowship was Innocent Peters, chairman of ISP Management (M) Sdn Bhd. The third recipient was Abdullah Busu Hanifah, chairman of Library/OT Committee of the Board of Directors of ISP.

ISP chairman Daud Amatzin proudly announced the award ceremony attended by 1,230 people, was reflective of solid support from Sarawak's oil palm and rubber industry.

Sarawak Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud officiated at the opening of ISP seminar that highlighted increasing challenges face by oil palm estate managers.

The keynote address, presented by Sarawak Plantation Bhd chairman Datuk Amar Hamed Sepawi, received a rousing response when he urged the government to tackle mounting barriers to palm oil exports in Malaysia’s free trade agreement talks with the European Union.

Among current issues discussed were the cause of haze enveloping Singapore and Peninsula Malaysia that emanated from Sumatera's peat fires. While many news reports and social media portals alleged oil palm planters were to be blamed for slash and burn activities at peat land, the truth is far from that.

Unknown to many, peatland is highly flammable in times of drought, if not properly managed. Many cash crop farmers who cannot afford heavy machinery for land clearing, torch up peatland and unsuspectingly set off fires that smoulder underground for weeks and months.

The reality is many oil palm planters have been actively preventing the spread of fire at peatland that may have been set off by cash crop farmers or carelessly ignited by cigarette butts in times of drought.

ISP chief executive officer Azizan Abdullah spoke out that oil palm planters who invested big sum of money to compact peatland and maintain water table at the canals throughout their estates should be given a pat on the back for stemming the spread of peat fire.

Kuching-based Tropical Peat Research Laboratory director Dr Lulie Melling concurred and explained that fire does not spread if the peatland had been compacted and is constantly moisturised in canals of water.