KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 23 — Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) and Malaysian Palm Oil Association (MPOA) urged anyone who has evidence of criminal or wrongful activity regarding rape and abuses in oil palm plantations to lodge the relevant reports with the appropriate law enforcement agencies.
The Associated Press (AP) report on Nov 18 titled “Rape, abuses in palm oil fields linked to top cosmetics brands” has recently called attention to serious allegations of abuse against women employed or associated with the palm oil industry.
MPOC chief executive officer (CEO) Datuk Kalyana Sundram said the authors should immediately cooperate with Malaysian authorities or through an appropriate independent non-governmental association by sharing the exact evidence so these allegations can be thoroughly investigated.
“If the motive of the authors of the AP report is to give justice to the alleged victims, they should step forward. Withholding or silencing such evidence is not helping the victims, nor the industry and will above all hinder justice,” he said in a statement.
He also stressed that the council viewed these allegations very seriously as they are criminal in nature and have to be subjected to our criminal code of justice.
“Malaysia will not condone such criminal acts nor tolerate any misuse or abuse of any employees, especially women,” he said.
Kalyana said that failure to step forward will lead in no action being taken, as the Malaysian authorities stated they have not received any report of such abuse, which means they cannot institute legal actions unless complaints are lodged officially.
Meanwhile, MPOA CEO Datuk Nageeb Wahab said reporting on the wrongful activity is an important first step that ought to be taken, if indeed the allegations have any basis in fact.
“The way to achieve this goal would be to work together, honestly, openly and with sincerity,” he said in a statement.
Nageeb said that the sweeping allegations made in the article paint a picture of life on Malaysian palm oil estates which is plainly exaggerated and the stuff of propaganda with the writers have gone to some lengths to perpetuate their narrative and create the impression that such abuse is endemic when in fact, such acts of violence, oppression and harassment are isolated incidents. — Bernama