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29 Mar 2020

Larissa Lumandan, FMT News

Malaysia: Closure of oil palm plantations & logging cos urged to protect rural communities from COVID-19

"Close plantations, activists tell Sarawak govt over Covid-19 fears", 27 March 2020

A Sarawak activist has urged the state government to temporarily close down all oil palm plantations and mills, especially in rural areas, to prevent the spread of Covid-19 to rural communities.

Solidariti Anak Sarawak (SAS) founder and activist Peter John Jaban said if Covid-19 entered the rural areas, the damage could be "immense" as most of the rural folks had very poor access to healthcare and almost no access to hospital care.

...[R]ecent report about 20 Indonesian oil palm plantation workers in Sri Aman showing early symptoms of the infection.


...[P]lantation industries and commodities ministry had agreed to allow plantations to continue operating, provided that the workers complied with standard operating procedures.


...[I]ndigenous rights activist Peter Kallang said he agreed with Jaban, saying the rural folks living in the interior parts of the state should be well isolated from the virus.

However, those working at the logging companies and oil palm plantations or mills in the interior would pose a great risk to the rural communities, such as the Penans.