If everyone passes an exam, whether or not they can read or write or have spent more than a week in school, what value their certificate?
That is the question western markets will be asking of the MOPC certificate following these sorts of remarks by the primary industries minister, who sees it her duty to continue with BN policies unchanged.
Teresa Kok wants to ensure that 100% of palm plantations in Malaysia have been given a Malaysian government certificate to say they are ‘sustainable’ so they can qualify as ‘sustainable palm oil’ in the European market by the end of the year.
She appears not to see a difference between palm oil needing to be 100% sustainable for the European market and the provision of ‘sustainability certificates’ to 100% of all Malaysian producers. So, she is chasing Sarawak plantation owners and trying to track absent owners down, so she can send them their certificates!
What about the 600,000 further hectares of present forest cover that Sarawak plans to convert to oil palm in the near future. Will these areas also be sent certificates of ‘sustainability’?
It would be helpful (perhaps in the place of frenetic palm oil ads) for the public to be offered a clear and simple outline as to what qualifies a Malaysian palm oil plantation as being ‘sustainable’ under the country’s home-grown and hastily rolled out certification system?
Also, to receive an explanation from the minister why other global bodies say the Malaysian system is sub-standard? Although, with articles such as this one, enough glaring inadequacies and shortfalls are laid out to leave little further need for elaboration.
Apparently, this domestic certification system (which appears to ignore the critical criteria banning recent deforestation or even planned further deforestation) is to at least ensure Malaysian plantation owners abide by good practices relating to fertilisers and pesticides, and avoid the abuse of riverine regions, where plantations ought not to be allowed at the waters’ edge (likewise steep sloping regions).
So, is the minister suggesting that by the end of the year such malpractices, which are glaring throughout East Malaysia in particular, will have been abolished 100%? Or is she just handing out the certificates anyway for farmers to present at the global market?
The minister is of course right to want to help farmers, but too many people are now laughing worldwide at the antics of this department, where serious regulation and solid measures and monitoring are what are needed instead of mindless cheerleading and manic advertising pitches by politicians acting like domestic salesmen for an industry which has lost the confidence of international buyers, because of abuses she appears to be trying to magic away with a piece of paper.