Putrajaya eases control order to let palm, rubber, logging sectors run skeleton shifts

A worker collects palm oil fruits at a plantation in Kuala Selangor January 2, 2020. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
A worker collects palm oil fruits at a plantation in Kuala Selangor January 2, 2020. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, March 19 — The government announced partial exemptions of the movement control order to permit the palm oil, rubber, and timber sectors resume operations on a restricted scale.

Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Mohd Khairuddin Aman Razali said palm plantations may proceed only with harvesting and processing fresh palm fruits.

The government would also allow factories to process and refine raw palm oil into consumer-ready cooking oil to ensure steady local supply during the nationwide shutdown.

He said in a statement today that rubber tapping for the purpose of supplying raw materials to manufacture medical items such as gloves and catheters would also be allowed to operate minimally.

As for the logging industry, the minister announced that activity was only allowed for those with existing and ongoing contracts.

“The ministry is aware this restriction order will bring major implications to the plantation and commodities sector, especially smallholders of palm oil and rubber.

“The ministry is also aware of the importance of the palm oil and rubber industry in contributing to the supply chain related to the manufacturing of essential items such as the supply of cooking oil and medical apparatus such gloves and catheters,” he said.

Mohd Khairuddin reminded that those exempted from the movement control order must still take steps to minimise their exposure to the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), such as maintaining social distancing and restricting travel strictly to their workplace.

Malaysia is in its second day of a two-week movement control order enforced to contain the spread of Covid-19 in the country.

Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin was forced to address the nation again last night and plead with Malaysians to stay at home in order for the shutdown to have a chance of containing Covid-19 locally.

He cautioned that the shutdown could be extended if Malaysia is unable to slow the rate of Covid-infections, which rose to 790 cases yesterday.


 

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