KUALA LUMPUR, July 2 — Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok has rebuked an international school in the nation’s capital for hosting a student performance on the negative impact of the palm oil industry.
At a press conference in Parliament, Kok made a call for the school to stop inculcating hatred for the palm oil industry, drawing parallels to how the European nations have vilified the crop.
“I received a clip on social media of an international school in Kuala Lumpur that held a student performance on the negative impact of cultivating palm oil and tied it to deforestation and felling trees. I call for the principal and teachers involved to come forward.
“They should come to my ministry and the Malaysian Palm Oil Council to understand the efforts being made to improve the industry and to preserve the environment by all industry players instead seeding hateful thoughts towards the palm oil industry among Malaysian students,” she said.
Although she did not mention the school in question, checks by the press found that the performance was organised by the International School @ ParkCity.
The school is jointly owned by ParkCity’s developer Perdana ParkCity Sdn Bhd and Brighton Education Group Sdn Bhd, and is led by director of education Andrew Dalton and principal Jonathan Turner, both UK citizens.
Malay Mail is contacting the school for a response to the minister’s remark.
The 1:10-minute clip in question begins with five students on stage in front of a big screen describing the impact of allegedly unsustainable palm oil practice here on orangutan habitat and deforestation.
More students then appeared on stage to while the screen in the background featured more visuals on the alleged devastation created by unsustainable palm oil.
“We have held a lot of protests by what other countries, especially the European nations have done [against the pam oil industry]. I don’t think this [performance] should have been organised by one of our own international schools,” said Kok.
She said that instead of criticising and spreading lies to children, the teachers should have approached her ministry to understand the steps that Putrajaya has taken insterad of doing a disservice to the country.
Last month, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had described the international community’s assessments and assumptions about Malaysia’s palm oil as not fair and the arguments claiming that palm oil cultivation activities in the country affected its natural ecosystem as not true.
In January, Putrajaya launched a year-long “Love MY Palm Oil” campaign to fight anti-palm oil campaigns that it said are threatening the livelihood of Malaysians involved in the industry.