KUALA LUMPUR, Oct. 6 — Seputeh MP Teresa Kok has urged US authorities to reassess the import ban issued against palm oil and palm oil products from FGV Holdings Bhd by dispatching a special investigation team to Malaysia.
In a statement today, Kok, who was the primary industries minister in the Pakatan Harapan administration, described the withhold release order (WRO) issued earlier this month by the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) against FGV as “most unreasonable”.
She said that FGV should not be penalised for a five-year-old complaint, adding “the incident concerned happened in 2015 based on a complaint by an NGO against one of its contractors”.
“The question Malaysians wish to ask is, did the US CBP evaluate FGV’s current labour practices when it issued the ban, or has it wilfully acted on an old complaint by NGOs, five years ago? If it is the latter, then it will be most unfair and unconscionable of the US CBP to have acted in this rash manner,” said Kok.
She also said that FGV has taken steps to address the issues raised in the complaints made against them, and called on the US CBP to send a team to Malaysia to familiarise themselves with the company’s current labour practices.
“It has since, duly implemented and continues to vigorously observe best labour practices, in accordance with international standards,” said Kok.
On October 1, Bloomberg reported the United States Customs and Border Protection had decided to block imports of palm oil and palm oil products from FGV Holdings Bhd on the grounds that a year-long investigation “reasonably indicates” the use of forced labour.
Shipments from the company and its subsidiaries will be held back at all ports of entry to the US effective October 7.
Malaysia is the second-biggest shipper of palm oil to the US.
As recently as September 26, FGV had issued a statement to say it is fully committed to respecting human rights and upholding labour standards.
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