ALERT UPDATE! Malaysian Govt. Denies Well Documented Oil Palm Development Plans in Brazilian Amazon

May 21, 2009

TAKE CONTINUED ACTION NOW! In a startling yet welcome announcement, Malaysian government's land agency now denies plans to produce oil palm in the Amazon. While the prospect of a Malaysian government agency funding Amazonian oil palm has been dealt a serious setback, it is likely this project will re-emerge. Let's get formal commitment from the Malaysian government that this project is canceled, and to stop all Malaysian government and private industry funding of oil palm expansion overseas. Maybe, just maybe, we are winning this one!


In a positive yet puzzling development, a spokesperson for the Malaysian government's federal land agency (FELDA) now denies plan for Malaysian government controlled oil palm development in the heart of the Amazon ever existed. Wan Zaleha Wan Embong, from FELDA's Public Relations Department, has been responding to our network's protest emails, disavowing the plans and stating "for your info the project never take (sic) place." The sudden change of plans is either an attempt to save face, the project has been canceled due to our protests and/or economic difficulties, or deceitful politics as the project is reorganized with private rather than government capital. In July of 2008, Malaysia's own Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak (then Deputy) announced the project. He is widely reported to have said Felda Global Ventures Brazil Sdn Bhd would invest some RM25mil (US$7.12mil) for a 70% stake in the project near the Amazon River in Brazil. He is quoted when announcing Felda's foray in South America as saying "Felda wants to emulate Petronas as a global player… As a start, 20,000ha in Tefe will be opened for oil palm planting. After that, between 3,000ha and 5,000ha will be opened yearly." As recently as March 25, 2009, Brazilian ambassador to Malaysia, Sergio Arruda, reportedly stated the oil palm cultivation project would commence this year. Something has changed over the last 8 weeks. It appears our protest combined with Ecological Internet whereby 3,082 people from 78 countries, in which 101,611 protest emails were sent, seems to have deeply embarrassed the Malaysian government. Immediately after our alert launched, references to plans by Malaysia‘s federal land agency to establish up to 100,000 hectares of oil palm plantations in the heart of Brazil's Amazon rainforest were systematically removed from FELDA's Internet servers. And Streamyx, the monopoly Internet service provider in Malaysia, stopped delivering emails referring to Malaysia's global rainforest for oil palm land grab. Subsequently it has become known that Sime Darby, a Malaysian palm oil producer, plans to invest $800 million for 200,000 hectares (500,000 acres) of palm oil and rubber plantations in Liberia. FELDA already has large holdings at the expense of rainforests in Papua New Guinea, and oil palm biodiesel plant investments in the U.S. Please send/resend the updated protest email, asking for confirmation that FELDA will no longer consider developing oil palm in the Amazon or Papua New Guinea rainforests, and will stop private Malaysian industry from doing so as well.

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