MSPP Oil Palm plantation in Tanintharyi region, Myanmar

Communities renounce through peaceful protest the MSPP Oil Palm Plantation that has encroached their indigenous lands


Description

Oil palm monocultures have expanded rapidly in Myanmar over the last decades. In Tanintharyi region, more than 1.8 million acres (728,434 ha) of land have been awarded for oil palm plantations, often to companies with close ties to the military. Expansion has further increased recently through the arrival of foreign direct investment into the country. This expansion has provoked large human rights abuses and environmental destruction, as the case of the Myanmar Stark Prestige Plantation (MSPP) Oil Palm concessions shows [1,2,3]. The development and impacts of the MSPP concession have been documented in detail through the Green Desert report (see [1]), produced by local civil society organizations. 

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Basic Data
NameMSPP Oil Palm plantation in Tanintharyi region, Myanmar
CountryMyanmar
ProvinceTanintharyi region
SiteTanintharyi Township, Myeik District
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock Management)
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Plantation conflicts (incl. Pulp
Deforestation
Land acquisition conflicts
Logging and non timber extraction
Agro-fuels and biomass energy plants
Specific CommoditiesLand
Timber
Palm oil
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsThe Myanmar Stark Prestige Plantation (MSPP) project is located in Tanintharyi Township, Myeik District. The Karen National Union (KNU) administers this area as Ler Muh Lah Township, Mergui-Tavoy District. Four villages are located within the concession area: Thein Pyin, Kawat, Baw Sa Nway, and Swae Chaung Wa [1].

The MSPP project is a joint venture between Malaysia-based Prestige Platform (95%) and the Myanmar-based Stark Industries (5%). According to the Green Desert Report, the Prestige Platform is a subsidiary of Glenealy Plantations, which is owned by Samling Group. Stark Industries was founded by Mya Thida Sway Tin, a businesswoman with connections to military and business elites. The investment size is reported to amount to 36.75 million USD [1].

The MSPP project is financed by Maybank, Malaysia that issued 124 million USD in bonds to Glenealy Plantations. Maybank itself is financed by several international funds and entities, such as the Norwegian Pension Fund, the Japan Bank of Cooperation and Development (JBIC), and others.

The 30-year permit granted by the Myanmar Investment Commission in 2011 amounts to 38,000 acres (15,378 ha). However, the project signboard, erected in 2014, lists the concession area with 42,200 acres (17,077ha), while a company map (2015) shows an area of 49,227 acres (19,921 ha) [1].
Project Area (in hectares)15,378
Level of Investment (in USD)36,750,000 USD
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population4,480
Start Date2001
Company Names or State EnterprisesStark Industries Co. from Myanmar - operating company - joint venture partner
Prestige Platform Co. from Malaysia - operating company - joint venture partner
Glenealy Plantaions Co. from Malaysia - parent company
Samling Group from Malaysia
Relevant government actorsMyanmar Central Government

Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC)

Karen National Union (KNU)
International and Financial InstitutionsMaybank from Malaysia - appears as potential funder of the MSPP parent companies
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersMain organizations:

Tarkapaw,

TRIP NET,

Southern Youth,

Candle Light,

Khaing Myae Thitsar,

Myeik Lawyer Network

Dawei Development Association

Supporting organizations:

Inclusive Development International (IDI)

Earth Rights International (ERI)

ALARM

Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA)

and others
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Local scientists/professionals
Religious groups
ehtnic Karen
Forms of MobilizationCommunity-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Refusal of compensation
Impacts
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Potential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Global warming, Soil contamination
Health ImpactsVisible: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Other environmental related diseases
OtherWater pollution through fertilizers, pesticides and animal faeces caused livestock dying, skin irritations and dysentery.
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures
Outcome
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCompensation
Migration/displacement
Strengthening of participation
Under negotiation
Project temporarily suspended
compensation was below fair standards
Development of AlternativesGroups argue for a moratorium of oil palm plantations until functioning safeguards are in place to protect both communities and the environment. More generally groups call for a moratorium on large-scale investment projects in conflict areas until strong and inclusive governance mechanisms are in place. For further recommendations, see the Green Desert report, published in December 2016 [1].
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.The social mobilizations had significant impact on raising awareness about oil palm expansion in the region. The expansion of the project has been temporarily suspended, however, the concession area was not returned to the villagers.
Sources and Materials
Legislations

1991 Procedures Conferring the Right to Cultivate Land
[click to view]

2012 Foreign Investment Law
[click to view]

2012 Environmental Conservation Law
[click to view]

2014 Environmental Conservation Rules
[click to view]

2012 Vacant, Fallow and Virgin Lands Management Law
[click to view]

2015 Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Procedure
[click to view]

References

[1] GREEN Desert: Communities in Tanintharyi renounce the MSPP Oil Palm Concession. Report published in December 2016, by Tarkapaw, TRIP NET, Southern Youth, Candle Light, Khaing Myae Thitsar, Myeik Lawyer Network and Dawei Development Association. (accessed online 14.04.2018).
[click to view]

Links

Mighty Earth, 3 February 2017. Samling’s Forest Crime Spree Moves to Myanmar. (accessed online 14 April 2018).
[click to view]

[2] The Myanmar Times, online article, 24 November 2017. Malaysian company accused of abuses in Tanintharyi. (accessed online 14.04.2018)
[click to view]

[3] Eleven Myanmar online news, 13 May 2016. Tanintharyi villagers demand end to palm-oil project. (accessed online 14.04.2018).
[click to view]

Media Links

Green Desert documentary video
[click to view]

Other Documents

MSPP signboard MSPP signboard in the concession area
[click to view]

Oil palm plantations and MSPP company buildings Oil palm plantations and MSPP company buildings
[click to view]

Peaceful protests Source: Green Desert report, see [1], https://eia-international.org/wp-content/uploads/Green-Desert-FINAL.pdf
[click to view]

Peaceful protests Source: Green Desert report, see [1], https://eia-international.org/wp-content/uploads/Green-Desert-FINAL.pdf
[click to view]

Dead livestock Source: Green Desert report, see [1], https://eia-international.org/wp-content/uploads/Green-Desert-FINAL.pdf
[click to view]

Green Desert Report https://eia-international.org/wp-content/uploads/Green-Desert-FINAL.pdf
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorEJatlas Southeast Asia Team (ejatlas.asia"at"gmail.com)
Last update23/04/2018
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