There has been no new land clearing or deforestation for oil palm plantations in Malaysia, the country’s deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof was quoted as saying by Asia Palm Oil magazine.

“There is no new land clearing or deforestation for the purpose of oil palm plantations,” Yusof, who is the country’s plantation and commodities minister, was quoted as saying in the 15 May report.

“If there are, such lands are privately-owned. And they didn’t clear the forests; instead, on their own land, they replaced old crops with new ones,” he told reporters following the Global Business Forum 2023 held on 14 May in Malaysia.

Last December, the European Union (EU) announced a decision to ban the sale of palm oil and other commodities linked to deforestation unless importers could show the production of their specific goods had not damaged forests, Asia Palm Oil Magazine wrote.

The move raised concerns in Malaysia and Indonesia – the largest exporters of palm oil, the report said.

Fadillah was quoted as saying external parties should engage with local players before imposing a set of standards on the plantation sector.

Fadillah also said that the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) was on par with the Europe-based Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) scheme.

“MSPO is on par with RSPO; in fact, it is even better. If they want to impose some new regulations or laws (pertaining to plantations), they need to talk to us so we can work together to ensure food security as well as take care of the welfare of the rakyat [people]. They need to recognise our efforts,” he was quoted as saying.