Thursday 18 Apr 2024
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KUALA LUMPUR (July 10): Sime Darby Plantation Bhd (SDP) has reached out to anti-trafficking NGO Liberty Shared (LS) to discuss the latter's allegation that SDP uses forced and child labour to produce palm oil and related products.

"As a matter of urgency and to ensure that any potential issues are expeditiously resolved, we have contacted LS by e-mail and have had a tele-conversation with Duncan Jepson, the author of the petition, to initiate discussions and to better understand concerns raised," SDP said in a statement today.

On April 20, LS submitted a petition to the US Customs and Border Protection with the allegations raised, seeking to block SDP's exports to the United States, estimated worth US$3 million a year. Yesterday, in response to queries from, SDP said the petition with the serious allegations was submitted without soliciting any feedback from the company.

In its statement today, SDP said it is committed to eradicating any and all instances of human rights infringements within its operations and supply chain. 

"If there is cause, we will immediately institute appropriate corrective actions to secure the wellbeing of all our employees. For this reason, we have requested for further details and information of the breaches and serious allegations alleged in LS’ petition.

"Despite the absence of such crucial information at this time, we will still provide our initial response in the best possible manner, based on statements contained in the petition summary, and our internal records relating to the matters raised,” the company added.  

SDP said it welcomes and appreciates any further information from any other sources that can help the company identify the existence and root cause of any breakdowns in its system, and will always continue to close gaps and correct any lapses in its operations and supply chain.

It will also continue to further engage, raise awareness and train its managers, assistant managers, and mandors on responsible business behaviour. "Any non-compliance to our commitments will be addressed swiftly and firmly, after thorough investigations are concluded. We will also take all necessary steps to minimise the risk of such issues recurring," it added.

In the appendix included with the press statement, SDP also outlined LS' petition summary, and the company’s response to it, including a reiteration of its strict policy of only hiring workers above 18 years old.

“We believe our responses to the summary of allegations demonstrate SDP’s commitment to uphold human rights throughout our operations. We are transparent about the challenges we face in our efforts to improve our practices on the ground, as we believe this is the best way to move forward. As with any organisation, we are aware that there will often be areas of improvement, especially with on the ground implementation of commitments, especially in an operation the size of ours,” the company noted.

SDP shares closed 7 sen or 1.4% higher at RM5.03, giving it a market capitalisation of RM34.63 billion.

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