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 Mahamad Rodzi Abdul Ghani
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 The Sunstar
 Malaysian execs to help promote oil palm industry

29/3/06 (The SunStar)  - A RANKING Malaysian foreign ministry official vowed to convince big businessmen and even government corporations in his country to invest in oil palm industry in Mindanao after a trade visit in the area.

Tan Sri Bernard Dompok, head of delegation from the Malaysian Prime Minister's Department, sounded bullish over the prospects of oil palm cultivation in the island after visiting Sarangani province.

He said the Malaysian team came to Sarangani to see what investments they could bring both from government agencies and the private sector of Malaysia.

Dompok hinted that bulk of Malaysian investment in the province and other parts of Mindanao would likely come in after the signing of the final peace agreement between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Malaysia, which is among the world's major grower of oil palm, has been brokering the peace negotiations of both sides for more than five years now.

"We are interested in the development here (Sarangani) as the natural move in view of the peace efforts being taken now," Dompok said.

He made the remarks after an aerial inspection of the coastal towns of Palimbang (Sultan Kudarat), Maitum and Kiamba (Sarangani) with Governor Miguel Rene Dominguez and Palimbang Mayor Labualas Mamansual on Friday.

After the helicopter ride, Dominguez showed Dompok and his party around barangays Mindupok and Kalaneg in Maitum town and the port in Kiamba.

The five-person Malaysian delegation, which visited Sarangani from March 16 to 18, included top officials of the Malaysian Federal Land Development Authority and economic planning unit.

Dominguez for his part said, "We are currently exploring ways on how to forge a partnership between the Malaysian government and our government to really begin this industry in southern Mindanao."

The governor told the Malaysian delegation that one of the competitive advantages of the provinces in southern Philippines is access to sea where boats can come in and transport palm oil with minimal expense. (RBS)

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