Kok: Malaysian companies won’t be protected if Indonesian forest fire claims are true

Smouldering peatland is pictured in Kampar, Riau province, September 17, 2019. — AFP pic
Smouldering peatland is pictured in Kampar, Riau province, September 17, 2019. — AFP pic

PUTRAJAYA, Sept 19 — The government will not protect the four Malaysian companies alleged to have caused the forest fires in Indonesia if such claims are proven true, said Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok today.

As Indonesia had not provided concrete evidence with regard to these claims, it was difficult for her team to take further action, Kok said, adding “These claims have been made by Indonesia, so the Indonesian government should conduct investigations and produce the evidence”.

“This ministry will not protect the companies involved if it is proven that they have committed wrongdoing,” she told reporters after the ministry’s monthly assembly here.

Prior to this, Indonesia had alleged that four Malaysian companies with subsidiaries in Indonesia, were responsible for several cases of forest fires in the former’s territory resulting in the haze, as the fires had originated from plantations used by the subsidiaries.

The four Malaysian companies comprise conglomerates IOI Corporation, Sime Darby Plantation Bhd, TDM Bhd and Kuala Lumpur Kepong Bhd.

Kok said while no official instructions had been issued to the four conglomerates to provide answers to her ministry or the Indonesian government, she had taken note of the statements issued by them.

“Until concrete evidence is put forward, the Indonesian claims appear to be baseless given the records of all the Malaysian companies which have adhered to sustainable oil palm cultivation,” she said, adding that the records were based on internationally-recognised certifications comprising the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) certification, Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certification, and the International Sustainability and Carbon Certification (ISCC) system.

Kok said the allegations by the Indonesian authorities against the four companies were serious and had put their reputations at risk, while indirectly hurting the image of Malaysia as a palm oil-producing country.

She added that it was difficult to believe that companies which engaged in sustainable practices, would conduct open burning on their estates as such activities would negatively impact them as well as their licences. — Bernama

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