MIRI: Senator Alan Ling has expressed relief over the government’s decision to exempt the palm oil and also the commodity agriculture sector, which includes rubber, from the Movement Control Order (MCO).
According to him, the stakeholders in the oil palm and rubber industries have been very worried about the possibility of their operations being halted, which could impose a huge impact on industry players, especially the smallholders.
“Their anxiety is fully understood, and I am relieved to learn of the exemption given by the government,” he said in a statement.
Nevertheless the senator, who is also a board member of the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB), urged the industry players to take all precautionary measures to minimise the risks of contracting Covid-19.
He said the exemption was granted based on the status of the plantation and commodity agriculture sectors as the important contributors to the supply chain of essential items like cooking oil and gloves, of which the supply would be disrupted should operations be stopped fully.
In view of this, Ling said the government had allowed the harvesting of fresh fruit bunches (FFBs) by companies and smallholders, as well as the collection and also the processing by the mills and refineries.
“The guidelines to adhere include minimising labour and their mobility by avoiding close physical contact, and for workers to return home immediately after work,” he pointed out.
Ling also urged workers in the plantation sector to practise good hygiene, including washing their hands with soaps or using sanitisers regularly.
“Furthermore, every estate owner or smallholder must uphold the standard operating procedures if they have been MSPO (Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil)-certified and to have BCP (Business Continuity Plan) in the event like this (Covid-19 situation) to make sure that all the necessary measures and precautions are taken to meet any eventuality and also the requirements set by the authorities,” said Ling.