Nearly half of Malaysia still forest, Dr M tells palm oil critics

Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad says it is not true that Malaysian palm oil is unsuitable for food products. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad has defended Malaysia’s oil palm plantations, saying 48% of the country is still covered in virgin forest.

“We still absorb much of the carbon dioxide produced in other parts of the world.

“We have always been concerned about the sustainability of our development.

“It’s true we had to fell many trees in our forests in order to grow oil palm trees.

“We have stopped doing so because there are other sources of income,” he said at the Asean Leaders Gathering 2018 in Bali.

Mahathir said Malaysia will ensure the palm oil it produced conforms to certain standards to avoid any more damage to the forests.

“We feel we owe this to the world and we hope for what we have done, the world will respond to our efforts.”

Mahathir lamented that there were efforts by some parties to label Malaysian palm oil as being unsuitable for food products although this wasn’t true.

He said millions had consumed food made from Malaysian palm oil without being harmed.

Mahathir said he wants to see Asean nations meet their sustainable development targets.

To this end, Mahathir said he hoped to see renewed support from the United Nations, International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.