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theSun | MONDAY OCTOBER 12 2009 11

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Rubber regains
But the dismal US economy coupled Despite better prices, small-
with continuing rising unemploy- holder Zaini Hanafi in Kedah – in
an interview with Reuters – says
Reduce, not ment suggests the decline stateside
could be sharper.
J.D. Power predicts Chinese
his 2 ha plantation is likely to bring
him between RM6,000 and RM8,000
ban plastic consumers will buy more than 11.4
million vehicles annually by 2015
this year. If he replanted his land
with oil palm, he could earn up to
bags
its bounce
based on one fact: the US has about RM40,000.
820 vehicles for every 1,000 people Also, planting oil palm offers
I REFER to “Campaign to ban use while the comparable figure for better returns. Land planted with
of plastic bags” (Oct 9) and agree China is about 34 vehicles. oil palm yields 10 tonnes a hectare
that it is a good idea to reduce the Similarly, low car ownership annually while the corresponding
use of plastic bags. But to ban them of about nine vehicles per 1,000 figure for rubber is a meagre 1.4
will be detrimental to the economy, people, sustained economic growth tonnes, the report points out.
the environment and ourselves. FOR decades, oil palm mercially viable tyres in the subcontinent and the recent In a bid to cut imports, the
Plastic bags and food containers has been this country’s without synthetic rub- launch of the Nano highlight the Malaysian government recently
are locally made and to have them golden crop. In contrast, ber by 2013. By adding long-term growth potential for car imposed a rubber levy of four sen
banned will close down factories several factors – including oxygen, it has created an sales in India. a kilogramme and says the funds
and put people out of work. Plastic less attractive rates of re- “improved natural rub- Not only is the Nano the cheapest raised will be used to boost output
bags are not all bad because they turn – have caused rubber ber” with a molecular car in the world – priced at about of rubber.
are practical, convenient and clean, to fall out of favour with structure similar to syn- US$2,000 (RM6,782) for the standard However, Aliasak Ambia, presi-
and so they help to keep both the plantation companies. thetic rubber, the Nikkei version – it is only about three times dent of the National Association of
environment and people healthy. However, three recent news report says. that of a low-end scooter. This could Smallholders says the government
Another point is that many developments suggest What the Nikkei help accelerate the switch from must take more drastic action and
items on sale are packed in one Malaysian policymakers news report under- scooters to cars in India. before it is too late, the news agency
or more layers of plastic of dif- should stop treating rub- MakingSens scores is technological Rising car sales in populous and reports.
ferent sizes and thickness. In any ber as a stepchild. improvements by major turbo-charged economies like China SMR 20 is a top-quality Malay-
supermarket, 75% of all the stock First, The Nikkei by Tan Siok Choo Japanese tyre makers and India underline the fact that de- sian rubber used to make tyres. But
on sale is packed in plastic which says weak demand for coupled with expecta- mand for cars – and by extension for a shortage of Malaysian SMR 20
is thicker, more resistant, and so is cars and intensifying competition tions of higher oil prices are enhanc- tyres and for rubber – will outpace could prompt the world’s biggest
more dangerous than flimsy plastic from low-cost rivals like China ing natural rubber’s competitiveness that in the US and in Europe. tyre-makers – France’s Michelin
bags which practically disintegrate has prompted major Japanese tyre against synthetic rubber. Third, a Reuters news report and Japan’s Bridgestone – to shift to
after being used a few times. manufacturers to rethink their Second, powered by a strong says Malaysia risks becoming a net other Thai and Indonesian grades, a
Shouldn’t the relevant ministry decades-long dependency on petro- economy and Beijing’s policy to importer of rubber within a few regional dealer in Singapore says.
focus on the increasing number leum-based synthetic rubber and to boost sales of small cars, China years as rubber trees in this country In short, unless Malaysian poli-
of manufacturers who pack their take a fresh look at natural rubber. looks set to overtake the US as the age and more smallholders shift to cymakers act decisively and quickly,
products in sturdy plastic bags Bridgestone has launched a new world’s largest car market. oil palm. this country won’t be able to benefit
which will take centuries to be “half-weight tyre” project that uses According to the China Associa- Malaysia’s imports of natural from the expected surge in demand
reabsorbed by the earth instead of materials other than synthetic rub- tion of Automobile Manufacturers, rubber could rise by 40% to 700,000 for natural rubber.
targeting small business owners ber. As its name suggests, the project car sales rose 82% to 1.14 million tonnes this year and next year, the
who make a much less harmful will reduce the weight of the tyre to units in August. Although car sales Reuters report predicts. Improv- Opinions expressed in this article
product? enhance fuel efficiency significantly. in the US totalled 1.26 million units ing demand amid tight supply has are the personal views of the writer
Supermarkets should charge The company is also developing – exceeding the figure for China caused the benchmark Tokyo rub- and should not be attributed to any
customers for the plastic bags they “bio-rubber” – a plant-based prod- – many analysts say these figures ber futures contract to jump by more organisation she is connected with. A
need to carry their shopping. uct to replace synthetic rubber, The were boosted by Washington’s “cash than 85% from its December low to director of a plantation company that
Nikkei reported. for clunkers” programme. about ¥200 (RM7.56) currently. In has switched completely from rubber
Marisa Demori Similarly, Sumitomo Rubber Admittedly, a drop-off in sales is the same period, palm oil futures to oil palm, she can be contacted at
Ipoh Industries hopes to produce com- expected in both countries next year. have climbed 39%. siokchoo.nsamail@gmail.com