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KUALA LUMPUR: Sime Darby Plantation Bhd (SDP) has continued to engage with the United States Customs and Border Protection (US CBP) over forced labour claims against the plantation company.

Senior independent director Datuk Zaiton Mohd Hassan described the issue as a “wake-up call” for the company and that it would look into changes in its operations.

“This is a huge wake-up call for us. We are an over 200-year old company. Plantation (operations) has always run the same way. It is about time we take a very hard look at how we do this and make changes.

“Therefore, I take it positively. Sitting on a board is no walk in the park. Things will go wrong and things do go wrong.

“What is important is how do you go about it, she said at a panel session titled “Corporate Governance Post Pandemic: Redefining Malaysia’s Corporate Purpose” here today.

The panel session was held on the sidelines of the Institutional Investors Council Malaysia-Securities Industry Development Corporation Corporate Governance Conference 2022.

The US CBP had on Dec 30, 2020, issued the withhold release order to SDP and subsequently issued the findings on Jan 28 this year against palm oil and palm oil products by SDP and its subsidiaries and joint ventures at SDP’s Malaysian operations, stating that certain palm oil products of the company were produced using convict, forced indentured labour.

“We can’t make our impact report public because we are still engaging with the US CBP and it is not right to make it public before we engage with them. In fact, it will jeopardise the process,“ said Zaiton.

— Bernama

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