KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 4 — Former deputy finance minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan said that one of the reasons for the reduced price of Malaysian palm oil is the country's strained bilateral ties with China.
In an Umno forum moderated by Persiaran Kilang Umno Youth chief Adnan Abu Seman, the Pontian MP said the cancellation of two China-backed projects here — East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) and the Sabah gas pipeline projects contributed to the strained ties.
He added that it was former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak who had built a strong relationship with the republic.
“There are people who ask me why the price of palm oil keeps declining and not rising.
“I said based on the information I have, is because Malaysia didn't utilise the good relationship with China, which was fostered by Datuk Najib. They didn't continue the relationship well,” he said yesterday in the discussion broadcasted live via Umno Online's Facebook page.
“The ECRL project was postponed for a while, and now they (Pakatan Harapan) want to do it, and then cancel again, and then Sabah gas pipeline (projects) were also cancelled.
“The project was undertaken by two of China's big companies. Government companies from China, but if they keep going back and forth like this, then China assumes that Malaysia is not serious in keeping to the international business agreements,” Ahmad added.
He said this was why China in retaliation, buys less palm oil from Malaysia, opting for the same produce from Indonesia instead.
Ahmad said that the weak ringgit further exacerbated the problem.
He further explained that during Barisan Nasional's (BN) era, he had asked the Foreign Ministry and the International Trade and Industry Ministry (Miti) to have Malaysia's ambassadors serving abroad, impose a key performance indicator (KPI) with regards to the amount of palm oil and rubber they manage to sell in those countries.
On Tuesday, primary industries deputy minister Shamsul Iskandar Mohd Akin urged Malaysians to consume palm oil products regularly, as a patriotic bid to help shore up the commodity’s flagging price, Bernama reported.
Shamsul Iskandar reportedly said that his ministry would continue to engage stakeholders at all levels, including smallholders, to jointly implement effective measures to push up the price of the edible oil.
One such example, he said, is the use of domestic palm oil to fuel the Biodiesel B10 programme.
The initiative started on December 1, and is aimed at increasing consumption and reducing excessive stocks.