25/08/05 KUCHING, (Bernama) -- The government wants Malaysian plantationcompanies operating in Indonesia to have good agricultural practices,including zero-burning to ensure that its palm oil is acceptable by theenvironmentally-friendly European markets.
Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Peter Chin saidThursday it was important that such companies did not spoil the good imageof the country's palm oil industry, which is the world leader insustainable development.
"The current palm oil prices are very profitable so my advice to theplantation operators is don't kill the goose (industry) that lay thegolden egg (palm oil)," he told reporters after launching ProgramKecemerlangan Badan Amal dan Kebajikan Tenaga Isteri-Isteri (Bakti) here.
Chin said the government was serious that such companies did notjeopardise the profitable business as western countries would only buyMalaysian oil palm if it was produced on sustainable basis.
Open burning in plantations and forests in Indonesia are said to be theprimary cause of the haze phenomenon in several areas of PeninsularMalaysia, and which led to the declaration of the haze emergency in PortKlang and Kuala Selangor on Aug 11.
However, the minister said he had yet to receive any evidence from theIndonesian authorities on the involvement of Malaysian companies in openburning to clear land.
"I don't want to defend our companies if they are proven wrong but they(Indonesian authorities) must have the concrete evidence to prosecutethem, whether in Sumatra or Kalimantan," he said.
Chin said five of the eight companies accused by Indonesia's ForestryMinister M.S. Kaban recently were Malaysian but they had explained thattheir plantations did not conduct open burning in Riau.
The companies' chief executive officers said the smallholders on thefringes of the plantations had conducted open burning, which led to theblame falling on the estates, he said.
So far, he added, there was no mention of Malaysian companies beinginvolved in open burning in Kalimatan, where big corporations, includingKumpulan Guthrie Bhd and several private companies from Sarawak, wereoperating.