Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok has expressed concern over Indonesia’s decision to blame Malaysian plantation giants for forest fires in various parts of the republic.
“From our records, the four named Malaysian companies named are among the most respected oil palm cultivators.
“They have already subscribed to and adopted certified sustainable cultivation practices through MSPO, RSPO, ISCC or a combination of these internationally recognised certification systems,” she said in a statement today.
Kok said the accusations were very serious and these companies were aware that they would lose their credentials should they be involved in open burning activities.
She said although she could not comment on the validity of the allegations until she had access to Indonesian investigation papers, she said she has reached out to the four companies who told her they have made a commitment to address the allegations.
“Such action (by Indonesia) is also highly unwarranted since I remain concerned that the current accusations will play right into the hands of anti-palm oil campaigners and both Indonesia and Malaysia as major palm oil producers could end up as the ultimate losers.
“I will also talk with my Indonesian counterpart and hope to resolve this matter quickly and amicably,” said Kok, who is currently on official business in Vietnam.
The Indonesian government has fingered four Malaysian companies responsible for forest fires in their country they being IOI Corporation, Sime Darby Plantation Bhd, TDM Bhd and Kuala Lumpur Kepong Bhd.
Haze as a result of forest fires in Indonesia’s Sumatra and Kalimantan islands are currently enveloping Peninsular Malaysia, Sarawak and Singapore.
Indonesia has not sealed off our land, say Sime Darby, IOI
IOI Corporation Bhd (IOI) and Sime Darby Plantation Bhd have denied that plantations operated by their Indonesia subsidiaries have been sealed off after authorities there accused them of starting fires that have caused transboundary smoke affecting Malaysia.
The subsidiaries of IOI Corp and Sime Darby were named along with those of TDM Bhd and Kuala Lumpur Keong Group in a Reuters report which cited Indonesia’s Environment Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar as saying the plantations under the four Malaysian companies have been identified for burning their land and had been sealed off.
IOI Corp in a statement tonight said its subsidiary, PT Sukses Karya Sawit (PT SKS), had not received any official notification, and had been working to put out fires in recent months.
“PT SKS has been on high alert and has put in place measures to deal with the dry weather and the risk of fire.
“We were able to quickly extinguish several small fires that have occurred over the last couple of months and have assisted other companies and villagers to respond to fires on our neighbouring lands,” IOI Corp said in a statement.
Sime Darby, in a separate statement, said no action has been taken by Indonesian authorities to seal off the plantation run by its subsidiary PT Sime Indo Agro (PT SIA) as of this afternoon.
PT SIA is part of the Minamas Group, a wholly subsidiary of Sime Darby in Indonesia.
Sime Darby said it monitored all its operation sites throughout the year.
Both companies said they maintained firefighting resources at their estates and conducted fire prevention and surveillance.
Sime Darby said a recent fire on Septembefr 3 had occurred outside the operation area of PT SIA and on lands occupied by local communities.
The company said it had clarified this to the Indonesian environment and forestry authorities.
It said it observed a Zero-Burning Replanting Technique at all its global operations, and also extends this policy to its plantations’ neighbours within 5km of its estates’ boundaries by monitoring and putting out any fires.
Sime Darby said it engages local communities in Indonesia on fire prevention and sustainable agricultural practices.
Malaysia’s Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok earlier today said she viewed with concern the Indonesian authorities’ claim that four Malaysian companies had allegedly started fires on their plantation lands.
Kok said the four were major oil palm plantation players and had adopted certified sustainable cultivation practices, either through the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil, Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, International Sustainability and Carbon Certification or a combination of these systems.