Concern Over EU’s Resolution On Palm Oil

KUCHING: Malaysia and Indonesia continue to express great concerns on the ‘European Parliament Resolution on Palm Oil and Deforestation of the Rainforests’ which was launched by the European Union (EU) in April.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and Indonesian President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) agreed that as major producers of palm oil, collaboration between the two countries was crucial to dissuade the EU to reverse its unfair policy that discriminates palm oil against other vegetable oils, which they said contributed to deforestation.

This policy will also result in adverse implications as it will impact around 600,000 smallholders in Malaysia and the smallholders in Indonesia, which I’ve been informed by Bapak president that they have 17.5 million smallholders.

Their source of income will be greatly affected if we do not find a solution to this issue, he said in a joint press conference with Jokowi after attending the 12th Malaysia-Indonesia Annual Leaders’ Consultation here yesterday.

In April, the European parliament said in a non-binding resolution that only environmentally sustainable palm oil could be imported into the EU after 2020.

The April 4 resolution seeks to establish a common EU standard to boost efforts to stop palm oil from becoming the cause of deforestation or exploitation of communities in producing countries and phase out usage of vegetable oils that harm the environment, according to a European parliament statement.

Najib said the country’s concern on the effects of the policy have been brought to the attention of representatives of European countries including European Council president Donald Tusk.

I’ve been informed by Jokowi that there will be a meeting with EU representatives in Jakarta in the next few days and we will be sending our representative to the meeting.

This issue is very serious and we will do our best to explore possible solutions, Najib said.

Meanwhile, in a statement issued to the media, both leaders reiterated their commitment that any measures aimed at restricting market access for palm oil will not reflect the commitment by the global community towards meeting the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations as per Agenda 2030 specifically in terms of eradicating poverty and raising income levels.

On the recruitment, placement and protection of Indonesian domestic workers in Malaysia, both leaders agreed to task officials to expedite discussion on the establishment of new agreement on recruitment, placement, and protection of Indonesian migrant workers including domestic workers in Malaysia.

Jokowi acknowledged efforts taken by the Malaysian government to address the issue of undocumented Indonesian migrant workers in the country through the implementation of Rehiring and Voluntary Deportation programmes.

However, both leaders agreed to strengthen close coordination between related officials of both countries in comprehensively reviewing and implementing the programmes in order to ensure effective implementation and the protection of the rights of Indonesian migrant works applying for the programme.

Jokowi also expressed his appreciation to the Malaysian government’s support of the establishment of the Community Learning Centre (CLCs) in the country as the fulfillment of Malaysia’s international commitment on the rights of child.

He also sought the government’s approval for the establishment of more CLCs including those outside plantation estates.

To this, Najib said in principle, an agreement had been reached to increase the number of CLCs.

However, we will wait for the comprehensive proposal from Indonesia and we will discuss the matter further with Sarawak and Sabah.

Currently, there are 68 CLCs in Sabah and 10 in Sarawak.

Earlier, Najib and Jokowi witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the cooperation for Islamic higher education between Malaysia and Indonesia, which was signed by Minister of Higher Education Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh representing Malaysia while Indonesia was presented by its Minister of Foreign Affairs Retno LP Marsudi.

The MoU aims to strengthen and develop closer ties between the two countries in addition to recognising Islamic higher education as a factor towards social, cultural and economic development.

Source: The Borneo Post