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Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi deliver his keynote address during the Palm Oil Leadership Award (PILA) dinner at Shangri La Hotel. Pic by ASYRAF HAMZAH

KUALA LUMPUR: As a vibrant player in the global palm oil industry, Malaysian Palm Oil Industry players must not stay silent on negative palm oil campaigns.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said industry players must be more vocal and loud in stating their point against such campaigns.

"Today, Malaysia is a important player in the palm oil industry, producing 20 million tonnes with about RM70 billion in exports.

"But nonetheless, the industry is facing unprecedented challenges and continues to face anti-palm oil campaigns with consumers, countries particularly in the European Union such as 'palm oil free' labelling to systematically sideline the palm oil industry,

Zahid said.

“We cannot stay silent any longer and must respond to all negative campaigns against palm oil.

"We must respond rationally with facts and figures, mainly on the issues of deforestation and destruction of wildlife being argued."

Speaking at the 100th anniversary and Palm Oil Leadership Award ceremony tonight, Zahid said the government is concern and will not tolerate the denigration of the palm oil industry.

"We ensure that on behalf of the industry players, especially the 650,000 small holders, Malaysia gives a fitting response to those who harm the industry, one of the oldest industry which had elevated million out of poverty for over a 100 years," he said.

Zahid added that industry players also must forge ahead with sustainable certification and adopt best agricultural practices.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi takes group photo with award recipients after presenting the Palm Oil Leadership Award (PILA) during the ceremony at Shangri La Hotel. Looking on are Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong (left), Deputy Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities, Datuk Datu Nasrun Datu Mansur (second from right) and Chairman of Malaysia Palm Oil Council (MPOC) Datuk Lee Yeow Chor (right). Pic by ASYRAF HAMZAH

"We must brand palm oil well because it is a versatile and nutritious oil," he said calling on industry players to respond according to the negative campaigns.

On top of that Zahid added that industry players must start to include information technology in their innovations to remain sustainable.

"This too will help to silence the critics of Palm Oil. MPOB must now intensify on commercially driven research and development initiatives to open new export markets and strengthen current footing in the world industry," he said.

He said as the next wave of technological disruption takes place in the form of Industry 4.0, players must be at the forefront of embracing new technologies to add value to the industry.

At the event, Felda Global Ventures Holdings chief operating officer S.Palaniappan received the Lifetime Excellence Award and former Malaysian Palm Oil Council Chief Executive Officer Tan Sri Dr Yusof Basiron was awarded the 10th Palm Oil Industry Leadership Award for their contribution to the industry.

Also present at ceremony was Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong and his deputy Datuk Datu Nasrun Datu Mansur.

Meanwhile, MPOC's chairman Datuk Lee Yeow Chor in his speech said the award introduced in 2008 was to honour industry players for their outstanding commitment and contributions in the palm oil industry.

"MPOC therefore wishes to honour such outstanding individuals and recognise them for their leadership efforts and qualities. We have created the Palm Oil Industry Leadership Award (PILA) for such industry leaders," he said in his speech.

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