Story and photos by Dr. Michael Lim The Travelling GourmetTM
All rights reserved
The indomitable and implacable Travelling Gourmet tells you about how greed and avarice sometimes disregards humanity and the environment…
MANY know this famous poem by Blake: Tiger, Tiger burning bright in the forests of the night…
but now the Sumatran tiger is in danger of extinction…WHY?
The reason, as stated in the Greenpeace International report published on 22 October, 2013 entitled “Licence to kill” is because of companies like Wilmar International, headquartered in Singapore.
Please see: http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/publications/Licence-to-kill/
As few as 400 tigers are thought to remain in the rainforests of Sumatra, which are vanishing at a staggering rate – a quarter of a million hectares every year. Expansion of oil palm and pulpwood plantations was responsible for nearly two-thirds of the destruction of tiger habitat from 2009 to 2011, the most recent period for which official Indonesian government data are available. Such destruction fragments the extensive tracts of rainforest over which tigers need to range in order to hunt.
Although Wilmar has undertaken to preserve high conservation value (HCV) forests and peatland on its own concessions, these areas supply less than 4% of the palm oil it trades and refines, with the remainder being produced by third-party suppliers. In relation to Wilmar, Greenpeace has documented deep peatland fires in oil palm concessions; wholesale rainforest destruction and illegal oil palm plantations within the Tesso Nilo National Park, harvests from which have previously been tracked to Wilmar’s own mills and which continue to feed into Indonesia’s palm oil supply chain; and extensive clearance of both tiger and orang-utan habitat. Wilmar is known to own, have a significant stake in or trade with most of the producers Greenpeace has documented as engaging in such irresponsible or illegal activities.
Today, on October 24, 2013, in an exclusive interview with The Travelling GourmetTM, Lim Li Chuen, Director, Investor Relations and spokesperson for Wilmar international said vehemently, “Greenpeace only gives one side of the issue. We have been engaging with Greenpeace…this report is very disappointing to us. These are complex issues that take time to resolve…”
I asked her, “But this wanton and indiscriminate burning of the forests in Indonesia has been going on for 40 to 50 years so how much more time is needed???”
Lim Li Chuen answered, ‘This kind of attack is counter-productive…We have issued a very detailed rebuttal. It is at http://www.wilmar-international.com in the sustainabily section. We are working with our suppliers, third parties and NGOs but it is very difficult to work with them…”
I enquired further, “What concrete and positive steps are being taken by Wilmar to address the issues raised in the Greenpeace report?”
Lim Li Chuen replied, “We are reviewing our business strategies and practices…”
To be brutally frank, which is not my usual style, I was not very convinced by her ambiguous answers.
Lim Li Chuen can be contacted at +65 6507 0592.
When Channel News Asia contacted Wilmar International in Indonesia, they did not respond.
On the Wilmar website they say: In our farming practices, we have also adopted a responsible plantation management approach that enables us to enhance nature’s biodiversity without compromising yields or plantation profitability.
In a nutshell, we firmly believe that environmental conservation and economic prosperity through sustainable agriculture can work in practice.
At the same time, we also recognise we can do much more to benefit the world with help and support from other stakeholders. This refers to engaging stakeholders through listening and addressing their concerns into our business decisions and actions as well as forming strategic collaborations with them, where relevant. (Nice words that mean very little in my opinion)
THEN WHY WAS THERE A THICK FOG OF POISONOUS HAZE BLANKETING SINGAPORE RECENTLY IN JUNE 2013 AND WHY ARE THERE SO FEW SUMATRAN TIGERS LEFT IN SUMATRA AND WHY ARE THE FORESTS IN INDONESIA BEING BURNT INDISCRIMINATELY??? WHY???
To conclude my special report, here is an excerpt from the Greenpeace report:
“Greenpeace’s investigations have revealed that household names including Colgate Palmolive, Mondelez International (formerly Kraft), Neste Oil, Procter & Gamble, Reckitt Benckiser and a host of other companies are linked to Singapore-based Wilmar International Ltd and its international trade in dirty palm oil. Wilmar is the world’s largest palm oil processor, accounting for over one-third of the global palm oil processing market and with a distribution network covering over 50 countries.
Greenpeace believes that Wilmar and the household brands that buy its palm oil must recognise the true costs of irresponsible palm oil production. They need to ensure that their palm oil supply makes a genuine contribution to Indonesia’s development, rather than destroying the future for its people, its wildlife and the global climate on which we all depend.”
No one can do everything but everyone can do something!
Let us start by BOYCOTTING Oreo Cookies, Colgate Palmolive Soap, Mondelez International (formerly Kraft) products like Kraft cheese, Neste Oil, Reckitt Benckiser and the rest of them!!! The environmental terrorism in Indonesia must be stopped!!!
UPDATE: 12 Feb 2014
Singapore’s gutsy Minister of the Environment gives us the real picture…