Kuala Lumpur, 3 December 2020 – Sime Darby Plantation Berhad (SDP) refers to the news article in the Associated Press published on 18 November 2020 relating to our operations, and our response dated 19 November 2020.
As an organisation that upholds and observes the highest ethical standards, particularly in relation to the welfare of our employees, we were deeply concerned by the allegations made. SDP implemented its first Gender Policy in 2012 and has, over time, enhanced our practices, ensuring that every estate has an active Gender Committee and grievance channels in place, which all our female workforce is familiar with. Awareness programmes on the rights of women, especially to a safe workplace, are conducted regularly, well documented and executed with the assistance of external experts and civil society organisations.
The following links provide the information on SDP's related initiatives in this area:
Due to the specific nature of the information in the article, we were able to immediately identify the particular case and revisit it, even though the complainant had withdrawn her complaint in April 2019, two months after it was first brought to light. At the time, the complainant had insisted that she was in no way coerced or intimidated into withdrawing her complaint, and that she was acting voluntarily, while being given our assurance that we would protect her and safeguard her rights. As the complainant was steadfast about withdrawing the complaint, the Company had accordingly closed the matter as there were no other witnesses to the alleged act. We had also then informed the independent non- governmental organisation (NGO) assisting the complainant of her decision. The NGO in question acknowledged the decision to close the case.
In revisiting the matter, the complainant informed our Gender Committee representative that she had no intention of reopening the case and also denied that the offensive statements had been made to her in the first place. Another female colleague identified as the actual target of the alleged statement, has denied that she had heard the statement, if it had been made at all. Thus, without any evidence, witnesses or even a victim, we have no basis to pursue further investigations and have accordingly closed the case again.
Both individuals continue to work in our estates as employees, under the protection of the systems that we have in place. We have taken this opportunity to reinforce the many safeguards, processes and procedures that are in place for our female workforce, and to educate all employees of the appropriate conduct expected of them at all times.
SDP reiterates our zero tolerance for any forms of sexual or human rights violations, exploitation, abuse or any other criminal offences in our operations and supply chains. We will continue to ensure the safety and well-being of all members of our workforce, especially the more vulnerable.
In addressing human rights issues within the industry, SDP recognises the importance of partnerships and collaborations. We believe that these complex issues can be better resolved with the involvement of all stakeholders, especially human rights groups. As exemplified in the above case, we have worked with a range of NGOs and civil society organisations over the years to strengthen our efforts in safeguarding the fundamental rights of our workforce, regardless of gender or ethnicities.
In the spirit of openness, transparency and collaboration, we will continue to engage in such collaborations to continuously improve our policies and practices in upholding human rights. Any individuals or organisations, including members of the media, with evidence of any wrongdoing are encouraged to report them to us immediately, or to the relevant authorities. SDP values transparency in our dealings with all parties to achieve the common objective of improving the palm oil industry and creating a better and safer environment for all.