Malaysia is home to some of the most diverse spectrums of flora and fauna on planet Earth. So much so that we have been declared as among one of the world’s megadiverse countries, housing as many as 15,000 species of flowering plants, 1,500 species of terrestrial vertebrates, and over 150,000 invertebrates.
Orangutan will kill you first
Despite this fact, our rapid encroachment into local jungles for the sake of agricultural concessions such as palm oil has dealt a blow to the propagation of many such native flora and fauna, chiefly among them include native orangutans. However, plantation industries and commodities minister Datuk Zuraida binti Kamaruddin has recently come under fire for claiming that in Malaysia, orangutans are more likely to kill humans than we are to kill them.
The remark was made during a closed-door industry event held by the Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) where she was invited to speak as a guest.
“The other thing that I discovered when I was in Mecca, I just came back from my umrah, then I was talking to our ambassador there. He told me, in the schools in Arab country, which his children went, the books still talking bad about palm oil. Our palm oil. Because of, kita bunuh orangutan [we kill orangutans].
I told him, in Malaysia, if you see orangutan, orangutan will kill you first, not you kill the orangutan first.” she said.
You may jump to the 19:30 mark in the video below.
Zuraida goes on to further add that the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (PERHILITAN) has policies in place to prevent the indiscriminate culling of orangutans.
“PERHILITAN ada polisi. You think they simply go and kill orangutan? Even lions, harimau, tigers also. When they see, they don’t kill! They have to have some kind of procedure to faint them and then take them to the zoo, whatever. We have all these procedures.”
She also explains that PERHILITAN keeps tabs on the current orangutan population in Malaysia, and will be able to show how many from the species are still living, how many have died, and where they are.
Comments taken out of context
However, her office has since published a statement which claims that her remarks were taken out of context. According to Free Malaysia Today, the plantation industries and commodities ministry had said that Zuraida was merely trying to narrate a story by the Malaysian ambassador to Saudi Arabia concerning anti-palm oil sentiments in the country.
“The orangutan issue was brought up so as to get relevant agencies to further study the habitats and living habits of the species.”
“This was so that the findings would then be presented to foreign stakeholders such as the European Union (EU), where strong anti-palm oil lobbyists operate, harming the sector’s long-term interests.” they wrote.
Urging social media users against sharing the video which was taken during a closed-door event that contain ‘distorted content’, they have also criticised ‘certain parties’ for cherry-picking parts of the speech to distort views over the issue at hand which have undermined the ministry’s efforts to promote palm oil.
The fact stands that current palm oil production methods do not promote sustainability, and have been identified as the leading cause behind the extinction of orangutans native to both Malaysia and Indonesia. It is estimated that anywhere between 1,000 to 5,000 of these majestic creatures are killed in the name of the industry.
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