Malaysia Hits Back at Rainforest Conservationists
Mimicking orangutan sounds, Malaysia's Energy, Water and Communications Minister assailed allegations that oil palm plantations are killing orangutans. He attributes concern over Malaysian's ancient rainforests and orangutans as an attempt to stifle competition. Malaysia has big plans to produce oil palm for biofuel [search], demand for which can only be met at the expense of primary rainforests. “Do you want us to be 100 percent covered with natural forest, so that we don't use cars, so that we swing from tree to tree like Tarzan and Jane? So that you can come and take photos of these loin-clothed natives?” These glib retorts denigrate the noble efforts of millions of Malaysians and global citizens working to protect orangutans [search], one of humanity's closest genetic relatives. And they fly against ecological science – namely that large forests must be protected and restored throughout the world if the global ecosystem is to continue providing humans their habitat. Do they not teach ecology in Malaysia?