Tell ‘good stories’ of transcendent purpose to win hearts: Minister
Published on: Sunday, May 12, 2019

Good stories of transcendent objectives are powerful winners, Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok told the palm oil industry players. 

Officiating a March 30 million-tree planting project in degraded 6,000ha Pin Supu Forest Reserve, Kok invoked a refreshing thought on the power of good stories.

“One million trees is, of course, nothing (sap sap shui), she confessed during an exclusive interview with the Daily Express.    

“But people like Claire Rewcastle said serious reforestation is a good story to counter charges of deforestation from the anti-palm oil lobby.” 

Kok argued the real idea of the million-tree planting project was meant to open the minds of the embattled palm oil industry to grasp the scientifically validated “power of good stories”, to change market attitudes, beliefs, behaviour and world opinion towards the recurring negative views of the industry.         


‘People more motivated by transcendent purpose’: Neurobiologist  

Neurobiologist Paul J Zak said by telling compelling human scale stories, he had experimentally proven that “people are substantially more motivated by transcendent purpose (how it improves life on earth) than transactional purpose (how it sells goods and service).”

In other words, brain and how it is excited by good stories matters to market success and almost everything else. 

Kok advised the palm oil industry: “Go tell good stories to the world”.

Where the industry needs to turn bad stories into good stories, do something really corrective to make it happen, she said.        

But where the good stories existed but have remained hidden and nobody knows, bring them out and flood the media with it for the deserving support.   


A surprise at Sawit

Citing a surprise during a visit to Sawit Kinabalu at Sungei Pin on March 30, her first visit to Kinabatangan, she said: “Like Sawit Kinabalu, I was very impressed, Sawit Kinabalu in itself got a lot of good stories.

“For example, you saw the quarters of workers? All these quarters are so nicely built but how come we do not know? Actually we have a lot of these good stories so the industry is not conscienceless, put it that way.”

Kinabatangan wildlife corridors: Two big boys can help tell a better story 

“Another thing, the wildlife corridor here, I quite like the idea of connecting the whole wildlife corridor around the Kinabatangan,” Kok noted.

When told that Sawit Kinabalu had done just that – reforesting a 2,600ha of a cleared area in Sungei Pin to reconnect it the Lot 8 and Lot 9 of the 28,000ha Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary while two big yawning gaps downstream remain cut off, Kok said she would talk to the two West Malaysia-based plantation “big boys” to work out something to plant back the animal corridors. “Because we have to have a good story to tell in this fight back campaign,” she said. 


‘Positive’ industry players help: Kok    

She noted the raft of good stories include some very positive players in the industry such as Datuk Hong (Teck Guan).

“During a dinner at Kinabalu Hyatt, I told him I want to plant a million trees. I asked how many can you commit, he said ok-lah, you say so, he’ll do it!”   

“You see, there are good stories. We need to encourage this type of industry players and when the media starts reporting good stories, others will follow,” she opined.

“This is where the media has a role. Instead of constantly pumping out sickening stories of race and religion why not do more patriotic type of news,” Kok said.


Nestle, Sime Darby and United Plantations

She also singled out how Nestle Malaysia and Sime Darby had teamed up to spend millions on the Project RiLeaf Kinabatangan Corridor of Life focussed on restoring damaged riparian forest reserves along Sabah’s most famous river, as briefed by Nestle Malaysia Agricultural Services Manager, Yong Lee Keng, during the Sungei Pin visit.       

In the peninsula, United Plantation has no trouble selling oil to Unilver in EU and Nestle because they have good stories to tell. – Kan Yaw Chong

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