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Ultimatum to Malaysian palm oil giant


Certification body issues ultimatum to Malaysian palm oil giant

Malaysian IOI group given 28 days to address land conflicts and environmental destruction in Borneo oil palm plantations - Bruno Manser Fund demands IOI's exclusion from the certification body's executive board

KUALA LUMPUR (MALAYSIA). Malaysia's second-largest palm oil group, IOI, has been given a severe reprimand by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), a certification body of which IOI is both a founding member and a member of the executive board.

According to a statement issued by the RSPO, IOI has breached two core membership mandates and obligations of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil. First, IOI has failed to engage openly and transparently with interested parties and seek an active resolution of conflict. Second, IOI has breached the partial certification standards, which forbid RSPO members from engaging in illegal activities, operations in areas with significant land conflicts and the destruction of primary rainforests.

Last month, a coalition of Malaysian, Indonesian and European NGOs lodged a complaint against IOI because of the group's involvement in illegal logging, the non-respect of a court decision on native customary rights and the wanton destruction of tropical rainforests with a high conservation value in Sarawak (Malaysia) and Ketapang (Indonesia) on Borneo.

The Malaysian oil palm group has been given 28 days "to come up with an acceptable solution to these matters, which preferably should be mutually agreed on by the parties involved". In the case of non-compliance, IOI will face further sanctions, which might include its expulsion from the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil. Meanwhile, RSPO has suspended all new certifications of IOI group activities with immediate effect.

IOI is controlled by Malaysia's fourth-richest man, Lee Shin Cheng, whose worth has been estimated at five billion dollars by Forbes magazine. Lee is also Chairman of the Malaysian Palm Oil Council, a lobby organization that aims at greenwashing the palm oil industry's negative social and environmental effects.

The Bruno Manser Fund requests that IOI be excluded from RSPO's executive board with immediate effect. IOI's systematic involvement in illegal and unsustainable activities in Indonesia and Malaysia has shown the group's disrespect for the core mission of the RSPO. The group has lost all credibility and should no longer be allowed to represent the palm oil producers on the RSPO's executive board.

- Ends –

Picture: Villagers of Long Teran Kanan, Sarawak (Malaysia), protesting against the Malaysian IOI group. In March 2011, the vilagers erected a street blockade to prevent company officials from trespassing on the community's native customary rights (NCR) land. IOI has been accused of illegally clearing the community's watershed area. In May 2010, the villagers won a high profile land rights litigation against the palm oil giant and the Sarawak state government.

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