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    Posted February 20, 2012 by
    New York City, New York

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    Palm oil, CorpWatch and the Year of Living Deceptively

    The year 2007 was labeled the “Year of Living Deceptively” for South Korea, because of the country’s numerous scandals involving fake academics and corrupt politicians. A survey of 340 professors selected the Chinese phrase “ja-gi-gi-in” (deceiving yourself and others) to sum up the year.

    The world of palm oil should not be surprised to hear of deception like that, being buffeted as it has been for close to 2 decades now by an entire cabal of “green” and “civil society” groups such as Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth (FOE), the WWF and even zoos like the Melbourne Zoo, the Auckland Zoo and the Philly Zoo who sought to paint palm oil in a deceptive light.

    To deceive is to make others believe falsehood as truth and accept wrong as right.

    Using that yardstick, Melody Kemp writing in CorpWatch on the Wilmar Group would probably win the Decptive Writing version of the Booker Prize!

    Littering her article entitled “Green Deserts: The Palm Oil Conflict” with hyperbole, half truths and equivocations, Ms Kemp proves to be quite adroit and adept in the dark art of deceptive writing!

    Jumping through literary hoops and seeking to paint palm oil in a less than favorable light anyway and anyhow, she did not wait too long before wading in with slanted gems such as “The companies plant the spiky oil palm trees, creating vast, eerily silent monoculture plantations”. Since when palm trees have become spiky and when any plantation whether banana or olive or any other have ever been veritable rock band walls of sound, she did not explain!

    Digging for dirt and seeking to paint a picture of wanton killings of orangutan, Ms Kemp is guilty of less than objective reporting when she quotes liberally from the Jakarta based Center for Orangutan Protection: “In 2006, workers from PT Kerry Sawit 2, which is also part of the Wilmar Group, killed an orangutan by beating it and cutting off its fingers so it bled to death,” in a vain attempt to dredge up isolated incidents and trying to give the impression that the problem is endemic, all pervading and systemic!

    In truth, it is difficult to spot even a single orangutan in an oil palm plantation. Yet that did not stop Ms Kemp, in a hyperbolic fit from attempting to claim that 2,500 of the orangutan have been slain in one oil palm plantation alone!

    Finally, Ms Kemp does not do her journalistic ambitions any favors when she quotes disenfranchised and clearly belligerent villagers in the village of Giri Sako who were clearly gathered to milk her self-fueled anti-palm oil bias by alleging that “Wilmar are pressuring us to give up our ancestral land and work for them.” As any down and out job applicant queuing in a jobless center knows only too well, no employer, by any stretch forces you to work for them!

    The palm oil industry does provide jobs in otherwise sterile job environments and many families from indigenous groups have benefited to the extent of having many of their off-springs pursuing tertiary education and dragging their families out of the quagmire of abject poverty, but these are stuff that Ms Kemp’s jaundiced eyes are wont not to see, preferring to dwell on the wailings of a few perennial malcontents who prefer to live the nomadic existence that forest living affords them.

    Ms Kemp, in her inflammatory CorpWatch report ignores the very real possibility that the green NGO’s from whom she quotes extensively have vested interests in continuing to exploit the issue as their bread is buttered on the side of continuously drumming up the palm oil issue for the donations and funds that it attracts to their coffers! Not to consider this is to continue to spread lies, equivocations and half truths and perpetuate an injustice against what is probably the most inherently sustainable of all oilseed crops!

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