KUALA LUMPUR: The Human Rights Due Diligence (HRDD) is a key tool to support responsible business practices and ensure Malaysia is a preferred destination for migrant workers and the palm oil industry, said Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof.
Fadillah, who is also the plantation and commodities minister, said HRDD should not be seen as a burden but rather as an advantage for businesses.
“It allows Malaysian businesses to lead by example, enhance their resilience and secure the exportability of their products globally, while setting in place strong systems to anticipate market disruptions in times of crisis,” he said in his opening remarks of the People Positive Palm (P3) Project workshop here on Tuesday (March 14).
The P3 project workshop was organised by the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF), Human Rights Coalition (HRC), Fair Labour Association (FLA) and International Organisation on Migration (IOM), focusing on HRDD.
Fadillah said HRDD has been embedded in the legislations of certain countries, to which Malaysian businesses export their goods.
“This should be viewed positively as an opportunity to ensure supply chain-wide collaboration in strengthening responsible business practices and finding innovative solutions to address emerging challenges.
“All businesses, from smallholders to multinationals, need access to practical tools to help them implement HRDD and increase their businesses' positive impact,” he said.
He said people's positive practices will help businesses deliver positive and sustainable outcomes for their workers by increasing their well-being for their business by improving productivity and resilience; and for their investors by meeting their growing demand for positive social effects within their investment portfolios.
“In this regard, the palm oil industry in Malaysia has the potential to be an exemplary beacon for other industries to emulate, both in the region and globally,” he said, adding that to this end, alignment of business and governmental efforts is of utmost importance.
He said it is the government's duty to protect human rights while encouraging economic growth, whereas the responsibility of businesses is to observe all laws and regulations, while seeking to maximise profits.
“With institutional partners such as the International Labour Organisation (ILO), International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the government of Malaysia will continue to strengthen its efforts to support a people-positive approach.
“This includes collaborative efforts in learning and training, as well as developing people positive policies and action plans, and ensuring no one is left behind, including smallholders,” he said.
The government is already taking steps to further this goal, which includes the implementation of the National Action Plan on Forced Labour and the planned launch of the National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights.
“These initiatives will help ensure that the palm oil industry in Malaysia can set an example for other industry transformations, and Malaysia can lead the way globally, encouraging other countries to follow in the path towards people positive industries, demonstrating how HRDD can effectively be implemented on the ground,” he said.
Fadillah hopes that the palm oil sector, through a pragmatic business approach to HRDD, will address the root causes of forced labour in a sustainable and structural manner.
“There is still much to do towards resolving all the issues that we face, but charting the right course right from the outset is extremely important, and I believe this includes what we are doing here today,” he added.
Source : The Edge Markets