KUALA LUMPUR – Malaysia strives to change negative perceptions and incorrect
views of palm oil in France.
Malaysian Ambassador to France Datuk Ibrahim Abdullah said the success in
gaining consumer acceptance of palm oil would mean messages from politicians
would have to be tailored accordingly.
In an article issued by the Embassy of Malaysia in Paris, Ibrahim said with
open, cordial and long-term engagements with French politicians, officials, and
the grassroots, Malaysia hopes to be able to rebalance the conversation.
“Even though engagements with politicians and officials are important,
emphasis should also be given towards winning the hearts and minds of consumers.
“Since politicians are usually expected to represent the preferences of
their constituents, the former will change their message to entice the latter,”
he said. Ibrahim pointed out that in preparation for future challenges, it would
be paramount for all Malaysian agencies to continue existing cooperation so that
the truth about the palm oil industry in Malaysia could be championed.
“Moving forward, all opportunities for Malaysia to articulate our position
on palm oil and the importance of the issue to us have to be explored.
“Building on the positive momentum we have been able to generate, it would
be worth considering looking into platforms such as public awareness campaigns
to reach out and sensitise consumers of all ages to the positive social,
environmental, and health impact of palm oil,” he said.
In this outreach programme, Ibrahim said it would be worthwhile to pursue
approaches that resonate with younger audiences who are ready to form their
opinion on the benefits of palm oil.
Ibrahim said Malaysia is also committed to the sustainability initiative and
sustainable development goals in accordance with its commitments as global
citizens. “Often overlooked, the definition of sustainability should encompass
the well-being of the vulnerable sections of society,” he said.
In anticipation of the possibility of the palm oil tax to be revisited in
the upcoming Finance Bill by the French government, Malaysian Plantation
Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong, arrived in Paris
on Tuesday for a three-day visit.
Ibrahim said during the series of meetings that have been arranged, Mah
intends to provide updates on the Malaysian palm oil industry, as well as drum
up support and recognition for the progress made without needing to be nudged on
the path of maintaining the country’s commitments in the industry.
“The danger to palm oil has not passed and we at the mission level, working
hand in glove with the minister and relevant agencies, will remain vigilant in
ensuring that the (French) tax on palm oil will not materialise as it could be
the beginning of a slippery slope that leads to a negative contagion effect when
it spreads to other EU (European Union) member states,” he said.
It is the government’s priority to continue to monitor developments in
Europe vis-à-vis imposition of taxes on our commodities that may affect the
livelihood of Malaysians,” he said. — BERNAMA