Palm oil misunderstanding: Minister and school resolve dispute

Palm oil misunderstanding: Minister and school resolve dispute

PUCHONG: The incident between Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok and an international school which staged an anti-palm oil performance has been resolved.

In a Facebook post today, Kok said that the senior administrators of The International @Parkcity, Education director Andrew Dalton, principal Jonathan Turner and Parkcity director Sukhdev Singh had met her yesterday to resolve the matter amicably.

“This was after I raised the issue of the school spreading an anti-palm oil message to their students, which resulted in prominent coverage in the media.

“They shared a video clip with me which was actually shown at the students’ assembly. The clip included an excerpt of an anti-palm oil video titled ‘Rang-Tan’, produced by the NGO GreenPeace.

“The students merely repeated the roles as depicted in the anti-palm oil video clip,” said Kok.

Recently, Kok issued a statement about an international school staging an anti-palm oil performance, saying it was biased as it did not account the benefits of the palm oil industry to the people.

The Education Ministry even said that they would investigate the international school for ‘going against national interest.”

However, many quarters have hurled brickbats at Kok and the Education Ministry for their high-handed approach on the matter, including fellow DAP leader Hannah Yeoh.

On the meeting yesterday, Kok said that the school administrators apologised for the ‘unfortunate incident’ and told her on hindsight, they could have handled the situation better.

She also conveyed her message that it was not her intention to stifle freedom of expression in schools.

“It is about them having a fuller understanding of both sides of the coin about the palm oil controversy, particularly the numerous efforts taken by the government and the palm oil industry players towards sustainability of the entire value chain of the oil palm industry,” said Kok.

She explained to them that the palm oil industry was governed by about 60 legislations and regulations, and the government was strongly advocating that the entire industry fully adopt the mandatory Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) certification.

The Finance Ministry, she said, had recently allocated RM100 million to help to pay the certification costs for smallholders and oil palm growers owning less than 1,000ha.

“In our discussion, I explained to the administrators the health benefits of palm oil, including red palm oil and vitamin E tocotrieniols. They were very surprised to learn of this,” said Kok.

“l also told them that oil palm became controversial due to its high yield. Thus, it became a stiff competitor to other edible oils and became a threat to vested interests.

“If there is no oil palm in the world, with the growth of the world population, nations would have cleared more rainforests to grow other forms of lower productivity oil crops to satisfy the global consumption needs,” she said.

The DAP MP also said she explained to the school administrators on the importance of palm oil to Malaysia’s economy.

“The palm oil industry has lifted the lives of millions of Malaysians in the rural areas from abject poverty,” said Kok.

By G Vinod

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palm oilPrimary Industries Ministryteresa kok