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KUALA LUMPUR: Twenty busloads of oil palm planters from rural estates today made their way to the heart of the city to convey their petition and protest against the European Union’s (EU) “Crop Apartheid” move to ban palm oil.

Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) chairman Tan Sri Shahrir Abdul Samad said that as of today, more than 103,000 oil palm smallholders have signed the petition against the EU's move.

“Over 112,000 Felda smallholders’ income in Malaysia will be harmed by this ban,” Shahrir told the smallholders who gathered at Menara Felda.

In a show of solidarity, more than 2,000 oil palm planters from outlying oil palm estates, grouped under the banner of ‘Faces of Palm Oil’, made their presence felt at the EU Delegation Office and 17 other European embassies here.

“We are voicing out the hypocrisy of vegetable oils trade politics. The proposed EU ban on palm oil biofuels, under the Renewable Energy Directive, is discriminatory and must be removed,” Shahrir said.

The EU’s planned ban on palm oil threatens 650,000 smallholders and over 3.2 million Malaysians who rely on the palm oil industry for their livelihood.

He explained that rural communities across Malaysia would be devastated by the EU's proposed restriction and thousands would be driven back into poverty.

The government had previously warned that if the EU were to go ahead to restrict and eventually ban palm oil, Malaysia would do what it takes to protect oil palm livelihood and future earnings of the nation.

Dayak Oil Palm Planters Association (DOPPA) president Dr Richard Mani Banda said: “Europe’s actions undermine Borneo's indigenous communities from making an honest living of putting food on the table and contributing to Malaysia's exports.”

“This cuts off rightful income to families to fund their children's tertiary education like the kids of Berlin and London are enjoying. This is modern day colonialism,” Banda said.

National Association of Smallholders (NASH) president Datuk Aliasak Ambia, who was also present at the protest, said: “Europe is imposing a “Crop Apartheid” on farmers from the developing world. This violates every United Nations treaty Europe has signed up for. We won’t forget neither will be allow this discrimination to continue.”

Separately, in a statement, Sarawak Land Consolidation & Rehabilitation Authority (SALCRA) chairman Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas said: “Malaysia strongly condemns any actions by European politicians that will discriminate against our oil palm smallholders.

“The policies that the EU is proposing to introduce will harm Malaysia’s rural communities and reduce incomes for Malaysian families. These are consequences that we cannot accept,” Uggah added.

Federal Land Development Authority (FELDA) chairman Tan Sri Shahrir Samad greets smallholders from Sarawak who flew in to Kuala Lumpur to protest against the EU palm oil ban.
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