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Palm oil criticisms: Setting the record straight

June 8, 2012

FMT LETTER: From Upreshpal Singh, via e-mail

As a Malaysian I’m saddened and dismayed every time I read of the palm oil industry attempting to deny (‘Distorted facts and figures’ – The Star, June 3) the irrefutable fact the industry does kill orangutans. When doing so, the palm oil industry inflicts more damage on its already battered reputation.

Over the past decade prestigious television companies like the BBC, National Geographic, the Discovery Channel, Al Jazzera, to name but a few, all with eminent presenters have furnished  documentary evidence of the wholesale slaughter of orangutans in Indonesia especially in Sabah.

It the past eight years at least 300 orangutans have been killed and all the fingers are pointed at the palm oil industry. Failure to enforce the law for reasons best known to the Sabah Wildlife Department, means no one has been prosecuted for killing any of these 300 orangutans.  How can that be?

Hundreds of hours of documentary film and thousands of photographs recording the demise of the orangutan are facts and on public record. The evidence against the palm oil industry is both compelling and overwhelming. What is more, the killing of endangered species by the palm oil industry is not limited only to orangutans – rhinos, tapirs, elephants, tigers and others species have suffered the same fate.

What will we tell our children and grandchildren if one day they ask: “Why did you not save the orangutan while there were still some left?’” Along with others, I will do my best to help save this species. Malaysia is one of only two countries in the world where this endearing and gentle red ape still clings on to life and I can only hope others in Malaysia will join me in taking national pride in what is an irreplaceable part of our culture and heritage.

I’m not opposed to palm oil. I simply oppose the needless destruction of wildlife, regardless of whether it is being carried out by the palm oil, mining or any other industry. The animals have no say in those matters do they? They are helpless to help themselves, which is why in Malaysia especially they need concerned people to help them and before it’s too late.

It is with regret the palm oil industry and its advocates fail to ever grasp the main issue. People do care about the orangutans and other species being killed, and these same people enjoy the freedom of speech and to make choices.

Trying to fool the public will never ever win the palm oil industry any new friends or business. The films, photos, and news stories are out there worldwide and when the industry foolishly denies what is so obviously true, they actually bring even scorn, attention and discredit upon themselves.


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