PUTRAJAYA: The Cabinet has agreed to allocate RM5 million for the Plantation Industries and Commodities Ministry to conduct a survey with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) on alleged use of child labour in the palm oil sector.
Its Minister Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong revealed this today, saying the fund was approved last week as Malaysia wanted to remove its palm oil from the United States Labour Department's List of Goods Produced by Child or Forced Labour.
"We have been put in that list since 2014. We want Malaysia's palm oil to be taken out from the said list by coming up with a report with ILO and we have the fund to do it now," he told reporters at a press conference.
To a question, Mah said the ministry would push for the study to be carried out as soon as possible and if it could be completed by this year, Malaysia would make its request with the US to remove palm oil from the list next year.
Mah added he would be meeting with Malaysian Ambassador to the United States Tan Sri Dr Zulhasnan Rafique to discuss what should be done to manage the issue at hand.
He said the matter had been misconstrued by some quarters who need to understand that smallholder palm oil farmers sometimes would bring along their children to work.
"When the children tagged along, they will help their parents. This is a traditional practice. It is not a child labour issue. In fact, child labour is not even an issue in Malaysia's palm oil industry," Mah said.
On Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) certification effort, Mah also said by the end of 2017 Malaysia would send its first MSPO certified consignment to Europe.
"We target to send five million tonne of certified MSPO palm oil to Europe by 2019."