Sarawak’s Oil Palm Policy Gets A Whacking

Sarawak’s state government policy of freezing the supply of oil palm seedlings to rural Dayaks is facing criticism as the state sells land cheaply to crony companies. Read more below about the preferential treatment given to these companies over rural Dayaks and the flaws in the government’s claim.

Read more on Malaysiakini.

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Deforestation for oil palm.

Deforestation for oil palm.

Sarawak DAP today slammed the Sarawak state government’s policy of freezing the supply of oil palm seedlings to the rural Dayaks because it  does not want the Dayaks to plant oil palm on state land, while on the other hand sells state land cheaply to crony companies.

“Hundreds of thousands of hectares are sold by the state government to crony companies.

“This is truly a clear case of the Sarawak BN government giving preferential and priority treatment to its crony companies over the interest of common Dayaks in rural areas.

“Because of the interest of these crony companies, even such a policy of providing the supply of oil palm seedlings to common Dayaks is sacrificed,” said Sarawak DAP chairperson Chong Chieng Jen at a media conference.

Chong, Bandar Kuching MP and state assemblyperson for Kota Sentosa, was commenting on a recent freeze of the supply of oil palm seedlings to rural people by the Malaysian Palm Oil Board.

The original aim of this supply was to help push up their income, but three months ago MPOB had stopped doing so, its reason being its target had been achieved.

“This excuse is unjustifiable. It is a made-up story,” claimed Chong, pointing out that Sarawak, with the largest land mass with 124,449.51 sq km, has the least acreage planted with oil palm of 1,076,238ha up to December last year.

Poking holes in gov’t claims

Peninsula Malaysia with a total land mass of 131,798.97 sq km have 2,558,103ha planted with oil palm, while Sabah with a land mass of 73,620.10 sq km have been planted with 1,442,588ha.

“How come the authorities claimed that it has achieved the target?” asked the DAP leader. Chong said that he confronted Douglas Uggah, the Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister, at the Parliament lobby for the real reason behind the state government’s decision.  “He told me that it was the state government’s policy which does not want the Dayaks to plant oil palm on state land,” he added.

Chong also said that was the real reason for the state’s move, pointing out that the definition of state land now is being questioned following a court decision.

The bulk of the state land is now part of native customary right (NCR) land as decided by the court, and there is no reason why the state government should stop the seedling supply,” he said.

Chong urged Ugah and BN to provide January to June figures, the number of seedlings supplied to the rural areas and how much land has been planted.

Letting the people judge Asked whether the state government’s policy is to keep the Dayaks poor, so that they could be bought over during election times, Chong said that he would not jump to such a conclusion as yet. “But I can highlight a statement by Taib Mahmud, (Sarawak Chief Minister) saying that the rural people are poor, so that they have to rely on BN.

“So long as the people are poor, the BN will continue to have a stranglehold on the rural people.

“Whether it is the notion of the BN to make the rural people intentionally poor in order to continue their with their stranglehold , I leave it to the people to judge,” he said.