Friday, January 11, 2008

Pull the other leg: Malaysian Palm Oil Council



It's wonderful what people will do to avoid the truth. The Malaysian Palm Oil Council has produced a promo video which is simply untruthful and rather ridiculous.
You can see it here.

It starts with someone jogging through a rather lovely patch of rainforest, while the voice over waffles about the wonders of nature. Then it comes up with catch phrases like: "Palm oil: a gift from nature; a gift for life" and "it's trees give life and help the planet breathe".

While this is going on, it shows oil palm and a lot of wildlife and plants - most of which are not found in Malaysia (an iguana, hummingbirds, salvinia water plant - I'm not even sure that the particular leaf-cutting ant pictured is one found in Malaysia, although I could be wrong about that.)

As quoted in today's The Star newspaper, the MPOC chief executive officer, Tan Sri Dr Yusof Basiron, said that the advertisements were not misleading in any way. He even has the gall to say that the plantations shown in the adverts are real...

Perhaps he meant real(ly) spruced up with hummingbirds. And that shot of crown-shyness comes from the Forestry Research Institute here in Kuala Lumpur, not the forest edge next to any oil palm plantation.

Right. Please, please show me Central or South American hummingbirds flying around oil palm plantations, Tan Sri! I'd love to write that up in a scientific paper.

And the video concludes with the words: "Malaysia Palm Oil, sustainably produced since 1917. "

Ok, so once you've cut down the rainforest and killed its biodiversity pretty much down to the last ant, and planted your palms, from THEN on it is sustainable, well, mostly, I'll agree.

But why not have a little honesty and just admit that - once we've killed our sustainable goose (our rainforest) that could have laid golden timber and forest products ad infinitum - we need palm oil for our own prosperity? Why not admit that we are too selfish to limit out family size or use less "stuff" in order to look after our planet? Why must we pretend that oil palm is good for anything except to put money in our pockets, soap in our bathrooms and food on our tables? It's not even natural to this country!

The American prairie was once full of wildlife; now it grows corn. The forests of Europe once had wolves and bears; now there are only a couple of pocket-sized natural forests left on the whole of the continent.

Palm oil plantations are no different. No worse, no better. But please don't try and kid us. We aren't that stupid...are we? And we all should take our share of the blame anyway. Just as our critics overseas should admit they haven't a leg to stand on - they've "been there, done that."

Photos: oil palm plantation in Johor. The smoke is from a oil palm processing plant. Waste is poured out into the air and the rivers.

8 comments:

hrugaar said...

But...but...corporate PR is all about lying and misrepresentation to sell products and make money, isn't it? It's practically de rigeur for promotional videos.

Our local Tourism decided to make a series of promotional ads for the rock a couple of years back, to encourage more visitors to come here. They hired professionals who shot all the photographs and videos ... on the south coast of England! Apparently they worked on the theory that one beach looks much like another if you're looking out to sea (only true for certain for values of 'beach', natch). But of course it did nothing to promote the actual beauty of our rock (which is very beautiful in parts) and the resultant blandness of the ads resulted in a very predictable flop.

hrugaar said...

Oh, btw, in answer to your question a few days ago, glenda, not everyone calls our island 'the rock', no. It occurs in local expressions such as: 'You need to get off the rock at least once a year'.

I suppose I used to tell people that I live on 'a rock in the sea' (because the island is so small, only about 10 miles by 5) and from there I just developed the habit of referring to it as 'the rock'.

Glenda Larke said...

Good lord. and they got paid for that? That is disgraceful.

We go one step worse though - the ad agency pinches video files of things like hummingbirds from OTHER COUNTRIES and tries to kid us they are Malaysian. How can the people who PAY to have these things made be so cynical?

I have seen Sarawak Tourism Board advertise Sarawak as the Land of the Hornbills with the photo of a hornbill not found anywhere on Borneo, let alone Sarawak. I've seen full page adverts in the Herald Tribune for Malaysia using a Blue and Yellow Macaw from S.America as the centrepiece. I have seen tourism brochures using other exotic bird pix.

Peter said...

I think that the person responsible for producing the palm oil video must be an ex-pat Australian real estate agent.

Glenda Larke said...

LOL, Peter!

nb said...

this blog is so ridiculuos

Anonymous said...

So what you and other green NGOs (WWF, Greenpeace, FoE, etc) have done or trying to do about these American prairie and forests of Europe?

"The American prairie was once full of wildlife; now it grows corn. The forests of Europe once had wolves and bears; now there are only a couple of pocket-sized natural forests left on the whole of the continent" ?

Glenda Larke said...

Dear Anonymous...what's the matter: too ashamed to sign a name to your inane comment?

Did you actually read what I wrote? Your comment has nothing to do with the subject of my post.