A PER­PET­UAL TAR­GET

New Straits Times - - Opinion -

the In­ter­net, so­cial me­dia has taken over the role of spread­ing fake news. And the reach is even more dev­as­tat­ing. Al­ready we hear of such news be­ing cooked up to tar­nish the im­age of in­di­vid­u­als. Reg­u­la­tors have come out with a new ap­proach to sup­press such prac­tices, re­cently cre­at­ing a web­site for the public to cross-check and val­i­date news. Time will tell whether it will be an ef­fec­tive in­stru­ment.

Fake news is not new to the palm oil in­dus­try either. This month, the palm oil in­dus­try in Malaysia will reach its 100-year mark after the first plant­ing of the Ten­na­ma­ram Es­tate way back in 1917. That first foray into oil palm plant­ing now proves to be a ma­jor bless­ing for the coun­try.

Palm oil is not only a big rev­enue earner for the na­tion but also a proven in­stru­ment of poverty al­le­vi­a­tion for the na­tion. Each year, the earn­ings from palm oil ap­proach the RM100 bil­lion mark. It would not be wrong to say that palm oil has made Malaysia what it is to­day. From nowhere, palm oil now leads world trade in edi­ble oils, ac­count­ing for more than 30 per cent. But the suc­cess has not been with­out its share of threats and chal­lenges. Fake news has been one of its big­gest threats.

In the early years of its en­try into global com­pe­ti­tion, the fake news con­cerned the nutri­tion of palm oil. The spread of such news was es­pe­cially ram­pant in the West. They claimed palm oil contributed the most to the rise in heart-re­lated dis­eases. All such un­sub­stan­ti­ated claims have been proven wrong through re­search and sound sci­ence. Now, an­other piece of fake news is go­ing vi­ral be­cause of cer­tain par­ties. They claim palm oil is bad for the en­vi­ron­ment. Go­ing by sci­en­tific data, palm oil is, in fact, the most sus­tain­able among the avail­able edi­ble oils.

PROF DATUK DR AH­MAD IBRAHIM, Fel­low Academy of Sciences Malaysia UCSI Univer­sity

FILE PIC

In the early years of its en­try into global trade, fake news con­cern­ing the nutri­tion of palm oil was es­pe­cially ram­pant in the West.

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