Malaysian smallholders protest
Amendments to the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive (RED) are making their way through the legislative process in Brussels. The RED presents a huge issue for Malaysia, specifically for its palm oil exports, because the European Parliament intends to ban palm oil biofuels from 2021 – last year, its Environment Committee and the Industry, Research and Energy Committee voted for the ban.
Brussels uses the RED as its main tool in regulating the biofuels sector. The objective is to highlight the EU’s use of renewable energy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and contribute to the region’s strategy to mitigate climate change. As part of this effort, the use of biofuels and other renewable energy sources is being promoted.
The move to ban palm oil biofuels has been led by multiple protectionist Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), with Dutch Greens MEP Bas Eickhout and Spanish Socialist MEP José Blanco López at the forefront.
The European Parliament’s protectionist position was confirmed on Jan 17, 2018 with 492 MEPs in favour of banning palm oil biofuels, 88 against and 107 abstentions. All other oilseeds will continue selling within the EU until at least 2030.
It has been heartening, however, to note that Malaysia received support from many quarters in Europe. The UK Conservative MEPs – part of the governing party of Prime Minister Theresa May – voted against the ban. In a statement confirming their stance, they said they ‘could not support an arbitrary ban on palm oil, which will have an inflationary effect on food prices and cause significant economic damage to developing countries’.
UK Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan, in a speech during the plenary, criticised other MEPs for wanting to ban palm oil: “The reality is that this is a vote driven by the interests of rapeseed producers here in Europe, specifically the biofuels industry at home.”
In addition, 57 MEPs from Europe’s largest political party – the centre-right European People’s Party – proposed an amendment to remove the clause on the palm oil ban.
Following the vote, Malaysia’s International Trade and Industry Minister Dato’ Sri Mustapa Mohamed said the ban is a “potential violation of World Trade Organisation rules”. Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong referred to it as “akin to crop apartheid”.
Protest in KL
On Jan 16, more than 2,000 Malaysian smallholders took to the streets of downtown Kuala Lumpur to protest the ban. As the event unfolded, photos, videos and comments were uploaded by advocacy groupfacesofpalmoil.org, which also posted tweets.
A delegation of smallholders and MPOC officials hand-delivered a petition at a meeting with H.E. Maria Castillo Fernandez, the EU Ambassador to Malaysia. The petition was backed by 320,047 signatures collected from smallholders nationwide. The delegation relayed the message that millions of Malaysians would be affected by such an unfair and discriminatory ban.
The Ambassador attempted to appease the group by saying that there is no ban on palm oil. However, many in the delegation felt otherwise. They based their stance on a press release by the European Parliament, which states that ‘MEPs want a ban on the use of palm oil from 2021’. Furthermore, during debates on the RED, words such as ‘ban’, ‘phase out’ or ‘stopping palm oil’ were repeatedly used.
Almost all the representatives of the smallholders spoke up during the meeting. Among them was Tuai Rumah Thomas Lamet, representing the Sarawak Land Consolidation and Rehabilitation Authority. He urged the Ambassador and the EU not to penalise innocent people, describing this as “cruel”. He said the ban would deprive them of a good life and create social problems because “oil palm [cultivation] sustains their life.”
The Ambassador was further told that negative comments and claims made against the palm oil industry had affected the interests of smallholders. She then agreed to raise their concerns with the European Parliament, EU Council (made up of governments) and European Commission.
The protest generated widespread publicity in major European cities and in Malaysia. It drew attention to the problems that 650,000 smallholders would face, as they depend on palm oil to earn an income and provide for their families. The ‘Faces of Palm Oil’ campaign, supported by smallholder organisations in Malaysia, secured close to 100 articles in the international media in January.
Efforts remain in place to overturn the ban as the legislative process continues. A decision will be made in the coming months, in negotiations between the European Parliament, EU Council, and European Commission. The Malaysian palm oil sector must ensure that it keeps up the pressure, day after day.
Stakeholder mapping, analysis, engagement and communication needs to be detailed to avoid business losses or even worse, a crisis. How can you do this effectively to prevent failure? ...
Data-driven business decisions have never been as crucial, especially in this era. MGBF leverages off, technology, experience and market presence to aid businesses in making accurate decisions. ...
MGBF provides comprehensive strategic advice and results-focused solutions to solve clients' problems in business-government relations so they can focus on their core business. ...
A critical business challenge is meeting the right decision-makers and potential buyers through the best channel and platform. How will you improve your business competency? ...
Expanding on the global digital arms race that governments and corporations are engaged in, this full-day forum will see industry leaders speak, and four interactive panel sessions. Event date: 21 March 2023. Contact us to book your seats now!
The threat matrix has evolved to include information warfare, cyberspace incursions, big data and behavioural communications. Business leaders need to be aware of these threats to survive. What are you doing as a key stakeholder?
Corporations and their leadership often face weaponised information attacks in the media. Understanding these advanced business threats is crucial. Recently completed. View proceedings online.
Special session: Cyberwarfare Waged on the Corporate Sector - Lessons from the Russia-Ukraine Crisis. Corporations are in a digital arms race that many don't realise. How does this relate to your organisation?
MGBF In The News
The Malaysia Global Business Forum (MGBF) will be hosting a roundtable on ‘Designing the Future of the Digital Economy’ on 23 February 2023. It is the culmination of the first three MGBF Exclusive Roundtable Series titled ‘The Evolving Threat Matrix in the Digital Economy’ held throughout 2022. According to the […]
The Founding Chairman of the Malaysia Global Business Forum (MGBF), Nordin Abdullah, today spoke on Bernama TV’s leading English talk show, The Brief, hosted by Jessy Chahal, on the topic of a stable political reality and what that means for the Malaysian economy. Nordin said, “The first thing that it […]
More than 1,100 years ago, Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi was developing the mathematical formulas that we know today as algorithms which now have become so intertwined with the business fortunes of global media giants and the very fabric of geopolitics. A series of recent high level international reports have revealed […]
KSK Land has been recognised by the Malaysia Global Business Forum (MGBF) for its role in attracting high net-worth individuals to Malaysia post-pandemic. The first challenge in investor attraction is “selling” the country. In the context of Asia, Malaysia is competing with some very established investment destinations. The second […]
Malaysia, in particular Kuala Lumpur, continues to position itself as a regional centre to do business, educate a family and enjoy a global lifestyle. One company, KSK Land, has taken the lead in positioning itself and the city of Kuala Lumpur as a property investment destination for the global citizen […]
The upcoming budget represents an opportunity to build resilience in the critical sectors that will form the backbone of the country’s future-facing economic ambitions. This however needs to be achieved in the context of managing the community sectors most impacted by COVID-19 over the past two years. The Keluarga Malaysia (Malaysian Family) […]
Malaysia Global Business Forum (MGBF) has moved to support the creative economy as the overall economy moves into a recovery phase following the COVID19 pandemic. As a step in the direction of normalcy, the MGBF has agreed to host the art exhibition “I Know You’re Somewhere So Far” by one […]
Congratulations to Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob for taking up the mantle of the ninth prime minister of Malaysia. There is nothing normal about the situation; it could not have been scripted but it has kept the spectrum of media, mainstream and social, gripped. The first order of business for […]
In a stirring speech to the nation, President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. stamped his brand of leadership on the presidency, in his first act as the 46th president of the United State of America, it signaled several shifts. Perhaps the weather was foreboding with snow falling before the ceremony that […]
KUALA LUMPUR, 6 July 2022 – As the global economy continues to deal with unprecedented levels of disruption caused by the pandemic and the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, the convergence of energy security and food security issues has become a front-of-mind issue faced by policy makers and consumers alike. […]
KUALA LUMPUR, 23 June 2022 — Malaysia Global Business Forum (MGBF) ties up with scoutAsia to ensure that businesses are equipped with deeper regional insights. The past two years has seen a massive shift in the way businesses are conducted with digitisation, digitalisation and automation continuously being adopted to improve […]
KUALA LUMPUR, 25 May 2022 – The Malaysia Global Business Forum (MGBF)’s exclusive roundtable on ‘Security Concerns in Critical Value Chains’ was held in a hybrid setting yesterday at the Eastin Hotel Kuala Lumpur. The guest of honour was Yang Berbahagia Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Rafidah Aziz, former minister of […]
We live in the age of crisis. At the heart of any crisis is the threat of rapid change. Change too deep or too wide that the current coping mechanisms for an individual, corporation or government are unable to remain resilient. An unwelcome paradigm shift, like the proverbial spider, that […]
The Malaysia Global Business Forum (MGBF) has released a report following the roundtable on ‘Digital Resilience in the Corporate Sector’, which was recently held in Kuala Lumpur. In attendance as guest of honour was Deputy Minister of Communications and Multimedia, Datuk Zahidi Zainul Abidin. The report recommended several critical development […]
Trade and investment delegations will trickle back over the next few months, but the second half of the year should see considerable return of business travellers. It was learnt that over 50 per cent of international business chambers and industry associations surveyed will consider sending exploratory teams to Malaysia during […]
KUALA LUMPUR, 30 March 2022 – The Malaysia Global Business Forum (MGBF)’s exclusive roundtable on ‘Digital Resilience in the Corporate Sector’ was held in a hybrid setting yesterday at the Element by Westin Kuala Lumpur. The discussion focused on what business leaders need to understand, to ensure business resilience and […]
The Malaysia Global Business Forum (MGBF)’s exclusive roundtable on ‘Addressing Weaponised Information in the Media’ was held in a hybrid setting today at the Hilton Kuala Lumpur. The discussion focused on addressing one of the most relevant threats to businesses in the digital economy – cyber threats causing physical and […]
The current floods that have impacted various parts of the country have given rise to an extensive commentary on the response cycles of various stakeholders. It has in turn led to continued crisis communications and statements in the media by agencies and ministries alike. This binary approach to the discussion […]
The formation of a special Cabinet committee to develop strategic measures to safeguard the economy amid the Covid-19 outbreak shows the Malaysian government is serious about creating a balance between the continued safety of the general population and the survival of the economy. In the global context, as many countries […]