BALI — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad yesterday admitted that Malaysia had cleared vast tracts of forest to develop its palm oil sector, but said the practice had now been stopped, as the nation has adopted a more sustainable approach.
The prime minister also gave the assurance in his speech at the Asean Leaders Gathering in Bali that the palm oil produced by Malaysia will conform to “certain standards”.
“Malaysia has always been very conscious about the sustainability of its development. It’s true we had to fell many trees in our forests in order to grow oil palm, palm trees, but today, we have stopped doing so because we feel there can be other sources of income for us.
“At the same time of course, we are ensuring that the palm oil produced by Malaysia conforms to certain standards, which means that it will not cause any more destruction of the forest in Malaysia,” he said.
Dr Mahathir who attended the Asean meeting after 15 years, says Malaysia was concerned over the megatrends involving the trade war between major powers, adding it was not going to benefit the countries concerned nor the rest of the world.
As Malaysia is a trading nation, it needs stability in the world market and if that is undermined, naturally the country will suffer, he said.
“For this reason, we are for settling all problems (but) not through wars of any kind but negotiations, arbitration and resorting to the world court.
“By doing this, we spare the damage to our countries when there is confrontation between us,” he said in his address at the meeting held on the sidelines of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank Annual Meetings themed, “Achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) And Overcoming Development Gap Through Regional and Global Collaborative Actions”.
It was at the Asean Summit in Bali that he bid farewell to the 10-member grouping when he stepped down as prime minister in 2003.
This visit is Dr Mahathir’s second to Indonesia since becoming prime minister again.
The prime minister said he would like to see Asean assume a bigger role than before.
“I also hope to see renewed support from the IMF, World Bank and the United Nations, through its various agencies, for Asean and for this region,” he said. — Bernama