Misplaced criticism of pupils’ presentation on ‘unsustainable palm oil’

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The knee-jerk response by the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Primary Resources is tantamount to a disservice to the nation, says Shariffa Sabrina Syed Akil.

We live in a tropical nation where most of our land area was naturally covered by rainforests.

To be able to plant any monoculture, deforestation must take place and with it the comes a loss of biodiversity. To claim otherwise is tantamount to propaganda in favour of monoculture.

It is the government that is desperately peddling falsehood in favour of supporting earnings from this monoculture, ventured into without sufficient caution and controls. The palm oil industry has fallen victim to its own greed and should not vent it out on honest students.

Malaysia should encourage freedom of expression displayed by creative and eco-concerned students and they should not be met with threats. The government should instead correct the students with facts and tours to what is being claimed as sustainable plantations.

The students in their well-researched presentation make specific reference to unsustainable palm oil, not palm oil as a whole. This is consistent with the Pakatan Harapan government’s commitments towards sustainability.

Failing which, the minister must accept that the students were right and the palm oil industry is indeed a main factor for deforestation and loss of habitat for numerous species of wildlife which are already threatened.

The knee-jerk response by the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Primary Resources is tantamount to a disservice to the nation in failing to ensure sustainability, thereby (failing to) protect future generations from the negative effects of unsustainable monoculture – and should be condemned by all Malaysians.

Puan Sri To’ Puan Datuk Shariffa Sabrina Syed Akil is president of Pertubuhan Pelindung Khazanah Alam (Peka) Malaysia, an NGO formed to stop the destruction of natural resources.

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