Teresa Kok Upset with International School’s Anti-Palm Oil Play

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KL international school badmouths palm oil in a play.

Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok has rebuked an international school in Kuala Lumpur for hosting a student performance on the negative impact of the palm oil industry.

At a press conference in Parliament, Kok made a call for the school to stop inculcating hatred for the palm oil industry, drawing parallels to how the European nations have vilified the crop.

“I received a clip on social media of an international school in Kuala Lumpur that held a student performance on the negative impact of cultivating palm oil and tied it to deforestation and felling trees. I call for the principal and teachers involved to come forward.

Mukhriz Hazim

“They should come to my ministry and the Malaysian Palm Oil Council to understand the efforts being made to improve the industry and to preserve the environment by all industry players instead seeding hateful thoughts towards the palm oil industry among Malaysian students,” she said.

Although she did not mention the school in question, checks by the press found that the performance was organised by the International School @ ParkCity.

The school is jointly owned by ParkCity’s developer Perdana ParkCity Sdn Bhd and Brighton Education Group Sdn Bhd, and is led by director of education Andrew Dalton and principal Jonathan Turner, both UK citizens.

The 1:10-minute clip circulating on social media begins with five students on stage in front of a big screen describing the impact of allegedly unsustainable palm oil practice here on orangutan habitat and deforestation.

In the performance, the schoolchildren had claimed that the planting of oil palm trees led to deforestation and killed up to 3,000 orangutans annually.

“If we don’t do something about this and ensure oil palm is sustainably grown, within 10 years, these beautiful creatures could be gone from our world,” said one student.

More students then appeared on stage while the screen in the background featured more visuals on the alleged devastation created by unsustainable palm oil.

“We have held a lot of protests by what other countries, especially the European nations have done [against the palm oil industry]. I don’t think this [performance] should have been organised by one of our own international schools,” said Kok.

She said that instead of criticising and spreading lies to children, the teachers should have approached her ministry to understand the steps that Putrajaya has taken instead of doing a disservice to the country.

Last month, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had described the international community’s assessments and assumptions about Malaysia’s palm oil as not fair and the arguments claiming that palm oil cultivation activities in the country affected its natural ecosystem as not true.

In January, Putrajaya launched a year-long ‘Love MY Palm Oil’ campaign to fight anti-palm oil campaigns that it said are threatening the livelihood of Malaysians involved in the industry.