Malaysia says trade spat with India over palm oil will not be long


A MALAYSIAN minister yesterday said a boycott of the country’s palm oil by Indian traders will likely not be prolonged as there were not enough supplies from top producer Indonesia to cover the shortfall.

Indian traders have been told to stop buying palm oil from Malaysia, the second-biggest exporter of the commodity, after remarks by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad on Kashmir sparked anger in New Delhi.

Dr Mahathir told the United Nations General Assembly late last month that India had “invaded and occupied” Kashmir, a disputed Muslim-majority region also claimed by Pakistan.

The boycott of Malaysian palm oil is likely temporary as supplies from Indonesia alone are not enough to meet demand in India, Malaysia’s Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali (picture) said. “We are confident that very soon, we will be able to resolve this matter effectively,” Reuters reported Azmin as saying.

Azmin also defended Dr Mahathir’s remarks, saying that Malaysia should be free to voice its opinions on international issues.

Dr Mahathir said he will not retract his comments despite the palm oil boycott.

India revoked the status of its Jammu and Kashmir state in August and yesterday moved to split the state into two territories.

Separately, Bernama reported that Khazanah Nasional Bhd’s assets divestment exercise over the year only involved commercial assets and not strategic ones.

Azmin reportedly said the liquidated assets had achieved its commercial target to generate revenues.

“Firstly, it was to pay Khazanah’s debts, not government debts and secondly, to be reinvested in new investments for Khazanah’s strategic assets,” he said when winding- up debate on the Supply Bill 2020.

Azmin also said Khazanah remained the largest-single shareholder in some of the country’s leading government-linked companies.

As of Sept 30, Khazanah’s strategic stake in Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd was 33.21%, Telekom Malaysia Bhd (26.15%) and Tenaga Nasional Bhd (27.27%), he added.

For the financial year 2019 (FY19), he said Khazanah is expected to chalk up profits of around RM5 billion compared to losses of RM6.3 billion in 2018.

“As Khazanah does not receive fund injection from outside sources for its investment, proceeds from the disposals are the new main source for new investments, unlike the Employees Provident Fund and Permodalan Nasional Bhd, which receive funds from employees contribution and unit trusts respectively.