P.M Haze worked with MP Mr.Louis Ng to raise these haze related questions in the in the Parliament
1.Mandatory labelling for palm oil – Mr Ng asked about the possibility of labelling palm oil on food labels so that consumers can play their part in anti- haze efforts.
In his response, Dr. Koh Poh Koon, Minister of State for National Development, Trade and Industry stated that “this would also be stricter than international standards and may be misperceived as a trade barrier” and it’s “an idea that requires further study”.
Background – In Singapore, there is no mandatory labelling for palm oil content in food with manfufacturers generally using the term “vegetable oil”.This may prevent consumers from making more conscious choices. In addition, the EU and US now require mandatory palm oil labelling and Australia will likely reach a decision in April this year.
2.Local Banks and Responsible financing – Mr.Ng asked whether MAS would encourage financiers to adhere to the Association of Banks in Singapore’s (ABS) guidelines, and what further steps it would take to prevent local financiers’ involvement in environmental destruction, which could lead to haze.
In response, MAS stated that ABS has “recently introduced specific guidelines for banks on dealing with haze-related risks, such as no open burning on plantations, and build capacity on fire prevention with local communities.”.
Background -Recently, some of our local banks were named for allegedly financing irresponsible palm oil companies linked to deforestation and the haze. In 2015, ABS released a set of industry guidelines to enhance responsible financing. Progress on this is not clear/evident.
We would like to thank MP Louis Ng and Miss Melissa Chong for their support and effort to raise these questions in Parliament. Although there’s a long way to go for Singapore in properly managing all stakeholders involved in the palm oil and paper industry, we have observed willingness from the Singapore government to engage on the topic and improve the status quo.