Assalamualaikum, Salam Sejahtera and a Very Good Morning
to all.

1. First and foremost, let me begin by thanking the Malaysian Rubber Board (MRB) for inviting me to officiate the opening of IRRDB 2023 International Rubber Conference. I would like to congratulate the Malaysian Rubber Board and the International Rubber Research Development Board (IRRDB) for organizing this international conference for the rubber industry.

2. It is indeed a privilege for me to be here this morning. I have been informed that the international rubber fraternity; scientists, researchers, academician and stakeholders of
Check against delivery rubber research and industries are gathering here in Malaysia to share their experiences and research results, expand scientific cooperation as well as to forge new
valuable partnerships. I am very impressed to see the overwhelming response and support from members of the IRRDB countries.

3. I would also like to commend MRB and IRRDB for their efforts in fostering the social interaction and networking amongst the rubber industry fraternity. I am sure you will renew your acquaintances and further strengthen your relationship with each other, which I am confident, will lead to greater cooperation and exchange of ideas for the benefit of the industry.

4. Allow me to also take this opportunity to welcome all delegates and speakers. I wish you all “Selamat Datang” and hope you will be able to experience a meaningful stay here, in the warmth of our Malaysian hospitality and the colours of our diversity, all of which will hopefully beckon you to return again and again.

Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

5. The Malaysian rubber industry is a vital part of our economy and society. For decades, rubber has helped thousands of rural households to improve their livelihoods. Thus, setting the policy direction for Agricommodity - of which the rubber sector is a key component - is one of the most important responsibilities of the Ministry of Plantation and Commodities. Hence, the Ministry has introduced The National Agricommodity Policy 2021 - 2030 or DAKN2030 that focuses on eight commodities and related products, namely palm oil, rubber, timber, cocoa, pepper, plant-based fibres (including kenaf), biomass (focused on Agricommodity biomass) and biofuels.

6. Through this policy, the rubber sector will focus on eleven strategies that are being implemented along the five policy thrusts, with the objective of restructuring the upstream
segment, modernising the midstream segment and supporting the growth of the downstream segment.

7. The rubber industry contributes to the Malaysian economy, in terms of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), export earnings, employment and income generation, particularly
among a large number of smallholders. In 2022, Malaysia’s rubber industry export was at RM 47.6 billion, representing 3.1% of Malaysia’s total export earnings. Currently, Malaysia is the world’s largest producer and exporter for Rubber Glove and ranked 7th as the main natural rubber producer.

8. Although currently the production of rubber in Malaysia is declining in the upstream sector, it is still contributing significantly to the country’s GDP and export revenues in the downstream sector. The Malaysian government policy emphasis will be on revitalizing the upstream sector and further expanding the downstream sector, including enhancing sustainability by implementing circular economy concepts.

9. The Government will continue to provide the necessary enabling framework and ecosystem to safeguard the Malaysian upstream industry especially the smallholders sector by synergising the relevant stakeholders through flagship programmes such as the Rubber Production Incentives, the East Coast Latex Corridor and the National Rubber Transformation Programme (TARGET). To ensure that Malaysian raw rubber is certified as sustainable raw rubber which was sourced responsibly and comply with Malaysia's current social and environmental laws, the
Check against delivery Malaysian Sustainable Natural Rubber (MSNR) guidelines will be established.

10. The development of Malaysian Sustainable Natural Rubber (MSNR) guidelines was driven by the needs of the industry for sustainable raw material that are free from deforestation, traceable and legally compliant with current social and environmental regulations in Malaysia. The MSNR guidelines are aimed at addressing the three pillars of sustainability  (i.e. environmental, economic and social), as Malaysia is a signatory to the UN Agenda 2030 on Sustainable Development. This guideline has considered the needs and challenges of rubber smallholders in Malaysia in complying with sustainability principles, a significant issue which most of the available sustainability related documents at present have been unable to address.
Sustainable production of natural rubber in Malaysia must comply with the following five principles: Zero deforestation, No land grabbing, Environmental sustainability, Social compliance and Traceability of the supply chain.

11. These are some of the things that we have done in Malaysia, and I’m sure the Rubber fraternity gathered here at this conference is looking forward to exchanging ideas and comparing notes on global best practices, towards strengthening the Rubber industry. I believe that IRRDB and member countries continuously strive for better cooperation in advancing the rubber industry which is facing a host of global issues not least of which are sustainability, climate change as well as rubber plant diseases. I heartily believe that the IRRDB conference is the best platform that provides for the sharing of latest developments and a fruitful exchange of ideas.

Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

12. It is my hope that the rubber fraternity will continue to explore not only in new research and development but also commercialization capabilities and innovation performance (R&D&C&I) in major and potential markets. This will contribute towards ensuring sustained markets for rubber and rubber products and will be able to revitalize the global rubber industry.

13. On that note, I would like to congratulate again the MRB and the IRRDB Organising Committee for putting together this important meeting of minds. I wish all of you the best in
your deliberations, and with that, it is with great pleasure that I declare open the IRRDB 2023 International Rubber Conference.

Thank you.