KUALA LUMPUR, July 20 — The Ministry of Plantation Industries and Commodities (KPPK) is coming up with strategic solutions to rid the country from allegations regarding labour in the palm oil and rubber industries, deputy minister Tuan Willie Anak Mongin said.
Malaysia according to him, does not condone forced labour, adding that as this is a very delicate issue and requires cooperation from various ministries as well as agencies.
“We are doing our part in coming up with the solutions and it is going to be our continuous effort to expel these allegations and eradicating labour issues that plaques the commodity sector,” he said in a special address “Powering Malaysia’s Plantation and Commodities Industry” at Invest Malaysia 2020 – Virtual Series 2.
Of recent, palm oil and rubber industries have been subjected to various punitive actions especially from the United States based on allegations on labour issues.
Liberty Shared, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) has recently filed a petition to the United States’ Customs and Border Protection (US CBP) on April 20, 2020 on the importation prohibition of palm oil and palm-based products produced by Sime Darby Plantation (SDP).
Sime Darby Plantation, which is one of the leading government-linked companies (GLCs) in the palm oil plantation sector in Malaysia operates fully in accordance to the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) certification and Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil.
Principles 3 and 4 in the MSPO scheme clearly states on the need to comply with relevant laws and regulations pertaining to labour protection.
“In this regard, the ministry has reminded all operators in the oil palm industry to continuously adhere to good labour practices in oil palm plantation operations,” he said.
As for the rubber sector, Willie noted that the commodity was also embroiled in the issue of labour exploitation with withhold release orders (WROs) imposed by US CBP on disposable rubber gloves produced by WRP Asia Pacific Sdn Bhd on Sept 30, 2019.
However, the WRO was withdrawn on March 23, 2020 due to urgent the need for rubber gloves following the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Recently, the rubber glove industry was once again slapped with a WRO on July 15, 2020, concerning Top Glove Sdn Bhd and TG Medical Sdn Bhd over the allegation of forced labour.
The company is currently engaging with a consultant who handled the WRP Asia Pacific Sdn Bhd’s WRO case.
The agricommodity plantation sector comprises six commodities; palm oil, rubber, timber, cocoa, pepper and kenaf.
Last year, this sector contributed 6.1 per cent to the gross domestic product and remained among the largest net exporter along with the electrical and electronic (E&E) and the oil and gas (O&G) sectors.
Being the top three commodities, the palm oil, rubber and timber sectors contributed to 94.18 per cent of total commodity export earnings in 2019 with top three major export destinations for agricommodity products are the European Union (EU), China and the US.