Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand ready to retaliate on EU palm oil ban


 HOTEL ROYALE CHULAN

MO,9/1/2018, KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand will retaliate if the EU’s ongoing discrimination and attack on the palm oil industry becomes legislative, said Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong. On April 4 last year, the EU Parliament made a resolution to introduce a single certification scheme for palm oil entering the EU market and phase out the use of palm oil based biodiesel by the end of 2020.

On Oct 23 last year, Industry, Research & Energy Committee (ITRE) endorsed the move and this was followed by support by the Parliament’s Environmental Committee (ENVI) on Nov 28. Mah noted that global trade politics is akin to crop apartheid as the EU Parliament has erected trade barriers. This risks breach of the EU’s World Trade Organisation (WTO) commitments and likely to jeopardise the Malaysia-EU Free Trade Agreement negotiations.

“If these hate campaigns and discriminatory policy against palm oil were to go on, we can also retaliate. Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand are collectively big purchasers of EU products,” Mah told reporters today. The minister was officiating at the Reach and Remind Friends seminar and dialogue organised by Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) here today.

Also present were Plantation Industries and Commodities Ministry’s secretary general Datuk K. Yogeeswaran, Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) chairman Datuk Ahmad Hamzah, MPOB director general Datuk Dr Ahmad Kushairi Din and Malaysian Palm Oil Council chairman Datuk Lee Yeow Chor. For the past year, Mah said he had met and spoken with many EU ambassadors here.

“We hope the EU will do by right and stop discriminating against the global palm oil industry.” Mah reiterated that oil palm planters across Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand deserve equal opportunities to trade and the EU should stop discriminating palm oil in favour its own rapeseed and sunflower sector. He explained Malaysia’s 650,000 small farmers’ daily income and livelihoods are stunted by trade barriers put up by developed nations under the guise of environmental protection.

“Why is oil palm cultivation demonised when it is proven to be the most sustainable oil crop when compared to rapeseed and sunflower grown in the EU? “Why are our oil palm planters being discriminated? What we want are equal opportunities to trade our palm oil. Is that too much to ask?” he asked.

When asked to estimate Malaysia’s 2017 palm oil exports, Mah said it is expected to surpass RM75 billion. “This year, our planters are hopeful of a higher target of RM80 billion as production is forecast to surpass 20 million tonnes while prices firm up on strong global demand,” he added.

 

–NSTP



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U.S. top court lets Trumps latest travel ban go into full effect



WASHINGTON: The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday handed a victory to President Donald Trump by allowing his latest travel ban targeting people from six Muslim-majority countries to go into full effect even as legal challenges continue in lower courts. The court, with two of the nine justices dissenting, granted his administration’s request to lift two injunctions imposed by lower courts that had partially blocked the ban, which is the third version of a contentious policy that Trump first sought to implement a week after taking office in January.



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It makes no sense to ban the headscarf – CENBET



KUALA LUMPUR: Local hotel operators should be more flexible in imposing dress code for their employees.

The local management of international hotel chains should request their headquarters to waive the ban on
frontline female Muslim staff from wearing the headscarf.

Rightfully, the hospitality industry should reflect the country’s diversity, that has been a major draw
for foreign tourists over the years.

Islam is a major religion in this country and it makes no sense to ban the headscarf. Just because the rule has been in place for a long time does not make it right.

This issue should be considered in the wider context of plural Malaysia that celebrates diversity. Hotel
operators need to play their part in promoting the “Malaysia, Truly Asia” slogan.

They should protest one-size-fits-all rules that do not take into account local sensitivities, that reeks of discrimination.

So long as the attire does not hamper an employee from effectively carrying out their jobs, the clothing should not be banned.

On a related note, clothing preference is a personal choice. In public, no one should be told what is
proper attire and what is not, so long as it is within the confines of the law.

Of late, some government agencies had stepped into moral policing by denying entry into its premises, some members of the public deemed to have dressed inappropriately.

Such decisions are often arbitrary. These civil servants who try to impose their personal values on the public’s dress code, is behaving no differently from multinational companies imposing dress codes that are insensitive to local settings.

Such attitude is not helpful in a plural society, which ought to embrace diversity. Embracing diversity
can go a long way in building the much-needed bridges in a society riven by radicalized elements that
manifests in issues like how a shop in Johor only serves one ethnic group.


* Gan Ping Sieu is the Co-president of the Centre For A Better Tomorrow (CENBET)



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