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  20 Jul 06
Malaysia, Indonesia in one-million-euro palm oil promotion

KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) - Malaysia and Indonesia will plough one million euros into a publicity campaign to fight claims oil palm plantations are destroying forests and habitats of endangered animals like orangutans, a Malaysian minister has said.

Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Peter Chin said the move would counter a public campaign from mainly American and European non-governmental organisations about the impact of plantations.

"This is where the anti-palm oil campaign happens most, in a lot of their websites and advertisments," said Chin who met with his counterpart in Indonesia on July 18.

Each country will contribute 500,000 euros to a dedicated fund for countering environmentalists' claims, a statement from Chin's ministry said. "It's a gesture of commitment to show that we are really putting our funds to counter anti-palm oil campaigns," said the minister on Thursday.

Palm oil in Indonesia and Malaysia has been blamed for destroying vast swathes of jungle and pushing endangered animals such as the orangutan to extinction. In a report last year, the environmental group Friends of the Earth said wildlife centres in Indonesia were over-run with orphaned baby orangutans that had been rescued from forests being cleared to make way for new plantations.

Chin said the fund would be used to finance an international public relations firm to counter negative allegations, with initiatives including advertisements and documentaries.

Malaysia and Indonesia are the world's leading producers of crude palm oil, producing about 80 percent of the world's supply.

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