The Oil Palm

YAB Tun Dr. Lim Keng Yaik: Meeting Our Challenges Together

On May 11, former Minister of Primary Industries (1986-2004) YAB Tun Dr. Lim Ken Yaik spoke before the International Conference and Exhibition on Palm Oil in Jakarta, an annual event bringing together leaders from throughout the world in the palm oil sector. Following a year during which the industry has been presented with numerous challenges, Dr. Lim explained the obstacles currently being erected against the industry throughout the world, including a recent decision by the World Bank to impose sustainability standards on loans to the industry, to EU funding of anti-palm oil NGOs and now the Australian Parliament’s decision to pursue legislation that would mandatorily label palm oil on food products at the behest of NGOs.

In his speech, Dr. Lim remarked that:

“Despite all [of our achievements], however, our growth and success has not been without criticism from competing interests. Many of the critiques come from the developed world, where high-production costs and low-yields have made competing oilseeds uncompetitive.

Many of you will recall a scurrilous campaign in the West against saturated fats in tropical oils during the 1980s. As a result, the world was exposed to trans-fatty acids as palm oil was replaced with hydrogenated oils, which are now recognized as highly dangerous to one’s health.

But the critics have not learned from their errors. Today, these same interests are advancing an even more radical attack designed to harm our industry…

I have already highlighted the role of WWF. Efforts need to be undertaken to highlight the dangerous role they have in dictating the future of the palm oil industry. In addition, we must begin an effort to reform RSPO.

Each of us in this room have been supportive of RSPO. We still believe in its relevance today as a good example of a voluntary initiative to demonstrate palm oil’s sustainability to key customers around the globe. However, it is increasingly clear that RSPO is not working under the current framework. RSPO requires smart and sensible reform.

What should we seek in terms of reform? The goal of reform should be to strengthen and improve RSPO so that it finally works for all parties.

To that end it must be acknowledged that interests of planters in Malaysia and Indonesia are not properly represented. The interests of NGOs are given excess weight. There is too little transparency in the overall process and so our voices are not heard…

Simply put, RSPO must not be used only to meet ENGO’s agenda, it must also support national economies. It should be reformed to respect national development strategies and certification schemes…”

Click here to read the entire speech.