Why the special treatment for the oil palm industry during RMO, questions MTUC Sarawak

Andrew Lo

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KUCHING, March 18: Malaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC) Sarawak secretary Andrew Lo questions the state government’s rationale to exempt the oil palm industry from the Restricted Movement Order (RMO) when micro-businesses such as cobblers and tailors have to close down for the next 14 days.

“It seems that the oil palm industry is so powerful that it can dictate government policy,” Lo claimed in a statement today.

He was commenting on an internal circular by Sarawak Oil Palm Plantation Owners’ Association (SAPPOA) which mentions that the Sarawak government has given permission to the palm oil industry (estates, mills and refineries) in Sarawak to operate during the Covid-19 RMO with some conditions.

According to the advisory contained in the circular, all workers at estates, mills and refineries must undergo temperature checks before work starts each day.

“Anyone with abnormal high temperature is to be sent immediately to the nearest hospital handling Covid-19 patients for checks. All movements within estates, mills and refineries are to be restricted with minimal number of personnel where possible. This is to minimise contacts with people,” reads the circular.

It added that all workers in estates, mils and refineries were to minimise movements outside working environments so as to minimise possible contact with outsiders.

The circular also revealed that a Covid-19 meeting with palm oil industry players today at Wisma Bapa Malaysia was chaired by Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas.

It also included Minister of Housing and Local Government Datuk Seri Dr Sim Hui Kian’s reminder to minimise movement for all those involved in professions that require them to be at work and for all Sarawakians to practise good hygiene at all times in view of the seriousness of the Covid-19 situation in the country.

“Please stay safe and avoid unnecessary movement where possible,” the circular concluded.

Meanwhile, Uggah’s office through a WhatsApp group message revealed it would leave it to the Federal Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodity for further action. — DayakDaily