Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said Malaysia may move in that direction should the EU's campaign to paint palm oil in a negative light persists. (NSTP/SAIRIEN NAFIS)

KUALA LANGAT: Malaysia could retaliate by looking at buying products from other countries, even fighter jets from China, should the European Union (EU) continue its discriminatory stance against Malaysian palm oil.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said Malaysia may move in that direction should the EU's campaign to paint palm oil in a negative light persists.

"We can retaliate if they do not want to buy our palm oil. Then we don't need to buy their products, too. I just returned from Pakistan where there was a national parade and there was an impressive aerobatic performance by fighter jets made in China.

"If we have to buy a fighter jet, we have to take into consideration those made in China and we will buy them. I think China's technology is not that bad and is even better than the West. This is the extent that the West is afraid and has disallowed China's products into their country. They want to stop goods from China as well as palm oil.

"If they do so, we cannot sell and we will be making a loss and we will buy fighter jets from China. This can be done as the EU had unfairly stopped our palm oil from going into their countries to protect their own oil market and economy and they continue to take action against us, trying to impoverish us ," said Dr Mahathir.

The prime minister was speaking during the launching of the Love My Palm Oil campaign at East Estate, Sime Darby Plantations in Pulau Carey here.

Also present at the launch were Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok and her deputy Datuk Seri Shamsul Iskandar Md Akin as well as Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister Dr Xavier Jayakumar, who is also Kuala Langat MP.

At a press conference later, Dr Mahathir said Putrajaya would look into reducing the purchase of products from EU member countries as there was still a need to buy from them.

"We cannot go to war with them because we still need to buy from them but only specific products. We have a lot of options and we cannot cut down on EU products hastily because we need to study the effects of it.

"Our move is not to promote China but to reject EU products that will impoverish us," said Dr Mahathir, who also described EU's threat against Malaysian palm oil as propaganda, adding that there was no reason to boycott the product if they do not feel like using it.

"Palm oil is not poison and they should not say it, like it cannot be put into food. They want to label food products without palm oil. This is propaganda by them. They do not have any pity for 600,000 poor workers who will lose their jobs and income if we shut down the plantations.

"But they are more concerned with the fate of the wildlife like elephants, tigers and Orang Utan by claiming we are carrying out deforestation and the animals are losing their habitat. They want to save the animals at the expense of the poor people (plantation workers) in Malaysia.

"That should not be happening. If they do not want to buy our palm oil, just say they do not want. Do not give unreasonable excuses which don't make sense," said Dr Mahathir.

The Prime Minister said Malaysia needs to win the war over palm oil by fully embracing the commodity and rejecting products by those who deliberately want to block one's progress.

He said EU's discrimination of Malaysian palm oil was because of the high cost of producing soybean oil compared to palm oil.

"To produce palm oil is cheap while soybean is expensive. So we need to compete and defeat them. To protect their oil market, they claim that palm oil is dangerous to consume, unhealthy and can bring illnesses and that forests and wildlife are wiped out because of deforestation.

"That is their excuse but in actual fact, their soybean oil cannot complete with palm oil.

Oil palm trees once planted can produce fruits for 25 years while soybean must be replanted annually. Their action is to protect their own interest and economy," added Dr Mahathir.

On the Philippines’ move to temporarily halt the import of palm oil

from Indonesia and Malaysia, Dr Mahathir said being Asean countries, it provides room for discussion and a resolution on the matter.