The Sabah-Sulu crisis threatens the palm oil supply chain


It is a curious thing of the late capitalist period that we so enjoy the comforts of a global supply chain that we can almost forget about the far frontiers that are tamed to bring us key commodities. Since about February 9, 2013, there have been several landings by militant gangs armed with sophisticated weaponry (including M-16s and rocket launchers) in Lahad Datu, and the outbreak of fighting in the coastal zone in the eastern part of Sabah.

Suluk “invasion” of eastern Sabah

The first of nearly 200 militants entered the massive (nearly 96,000ha) oil palm plantation run by Felda Global Ventures (FGV), the third largest plantation company in the world and first ranked in Malaysia, at least when measured in oil palm mature planted area. Interestingly, they landed in the Lahad Datu area, occupying the Felda Sahabat 17 estate, right next to where the Malaysian police located themselves in the Felda Sahabat 16 estate1.

Some pointed out that the incursion was well planned and involved Suluk Filipinos and their kinsmen. These had migrated to Sabah over the last few decades, fleeing poor prospects in the violence-wracked and underdeveloped Mindanao region.

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