M'sian minister stokes fears of 'killer' orangutans in speech related to palm oil industry

Her ministry claimed her remarks were made in jest and the clip was edited out of context.

Faris Alfiq | January 28, 2022, 05:28 PM

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Malaysia's Minister for Plantation Industries and Commodities, Zuraida Kamaruddin stirred the ire of Malaysian netizens by claiming that orangutans are more likely to kill humans before humans kill them first.

Parts of her remarks made the rounds online following her engagement at a closed-door session of Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) that took place on Jan. 5, Malaysiakini reported.

"If you see an orangutan, the orangutan will kill you first": Zuraida Kamaruddin

In the 1 minute and 35 seconds clip, Zuraida was recounting her experience when she visited Mecca recently.

She met Malaysia's ambassador to Saudi and was told that textbooks used in schools in Arab countries had painted an unflattering image of the palm oil industry.

"(The ambassador) told me that in schools in the Arab countries, the books are criticising our palm oil (industry) because we kill orangutans," she said in the clip.

She said that in Malaysia, "If you see an orangutan, the orangutan will kill you first, you won't kill the orangutan first right?"

The clip also showed Zuraida emphasising that Malaysia's Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) has policies and proper procedures in dealing with orangutans, tigers and strangely, lions.

"Perhilitan has its policies. Do you think they simply just go and kill orangutans? Even lions and tigers, when they see it, they don't kill," Zuraida said.

However, there are no wild lions in Malaysia.

She added that the department also publishes reports on the number of orangutans in Malaysia and their whereabouts.

Netizens bewildered by Zuraida's claims

Malaysians were bewildered and confused by the claims made by Zuraida regarding orangutans.

Rafizi Ramli, Vice-President of People's Justice Party (PKR), shared that clip on his Twitter account, which has garnered a lot of attention.

At the time of writing, the post had more than 3,000 retweets and shares.

Rafizi sarcastically wrote that there are a lot of things to learn from "these smart ministers".

First, he said that in Malaysia, if an orangutan comes across a human, it will kill the human, and secondly, there are lions in Malaysia.

"My teachers lied in school, did not teach all these back then," he added

Other netizens criticised her as well.

Ministry said Zuraida's words taken out of context

In response to Zuraida's remarks that went viral, the Ministry of Plantation Industries and Commodities had issued a statement on Jan. 20 stating clarifying that her comment on orangutan was made in "jest", Malaysiakini reported.

The statement added that criticism against Zuraida had "undermined" her ministry and "distorted" Malaysia's palm oil campaign.

"Certain parties have chosen to cherry-pick the speech to present a distorted view about Malaysia's consistent stance of promoting a robust oil palm industry that could co-exist and flourish in a sustainable ecosystem," the statement said.

"These people are only undermining the ministry and MPOC's efforts to promote Malaysian palm oil," it added.

Malaysiakini reported that the ministry had also urged users not to share the clip.

"This will only lower the morale of the tireless staff of the ministry and its agencies who have displayed respectable commitment in promoting Malaysian palm oil," the ministry said as reported by Malaysiakini.

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Top images via Zuraida Kamaruddin/Facebook and Dan Dennis on Unsplash Β