Hornbill Unleashed

July 29, 2014

M’sian oil palm linked to disgraced PR firm


Disgraced UK-based FBC Media, a firm accused of producing fluff content on major television networks under the guise of genuine programmes for those who would pay, had purportedly also offered its services to the government backed Malaysian Oil Palm Council (Mpoc).

This is according to whistleblower site Sarawak Report which released what is said is “a dossier of damning proposals” made by the discredited FBC Media to Mpoc to improve Malaysia’s tarnished oil palm industry image.

“It confirms the strategy of ‘greenwash’ to deliberately mislead the world’s public about the true nature of this massive agribusiness, which is tearing up the Borneo jungle and displacing its inhabitants.

“The methods proposed were totally illegal and involved inserting secretly commissioned propaganda items into mainstream TV news programmes,” said the report.

FBC Media is presently facing bankruptcy after being exposed for its activities in 2011 by the same whistleblower site.

Between 2009 and 2011 FBC Media produced programmes criticising environmentalists who oppose logging and palm oil plantations in Sarawak for top television networks.

Sarawak Report in 2011 revealed the Malaysian government paid FBC Media some RM100 million for a “global strategic communications campaign” but said MPOC’s link has only surfaced now.

Following the expose, BBC suspended all programmes produced by FBC Media for the network while CNBC cancelled its “World Business” programme produced by the firm.

Sarawak Report said it obtained a presentation by FBC Media to Mpoc chief executive officer Yusof Barison in 2011 where it proposed to “place a crafted documentary about palm oil onto a top world news channel “such as BBC World, Bloomberg, CNBC or Channel News Asia”.

“FBC also promised to place a further “three-part TV series which will consist of 5-6 minute in-depth TV reports” on the CNBC show ‘World Business'”.

Gain sympathy

The report said FBC Media’s proposal was to use media outlets to turn public opinion and gain sympathy for the palm oil industry.

“In particular, they promised to promote the lie that the majority of oil palm is produced by ‘small farm holders’, instead of vast businesses like Sime Darby, Rimbunan Hijau, IOI and others,” it said.

Basiron was asked by Sarawak Report about the allegation on Twitter, in which he responded: “Good story as expected from an anti-Sarawak anti-palm oil person. I am promoting that truth be told to avoid distortion”.

In a later series of tweets, he also hit out at environmental NGOs.

“ENGOs (Environmental NGOs) start with green bashing, reject truths as green washing, intimidate via green mailing, hoping to recreate (green) imperialism,” he said.

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