Haze: Singapore and Malaysia accused of trying to discredit Indonesia over the haze

The Star, 25 Jun 2013

JAKARTA: An Indonesian minister has said Singapore and Malaysia should “know themselves” over the haze, accusing both of trying to discredit Indonesia over the issue.

“Let me remind our friends from Malaysia, Singapore, don’t just because of the haze tell stories to the world,” said Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Jero Wacik when opening a meeting of senior energy officials from Asean countries in Nusa Dua, Bali, yesterday.

“It’s called sharing, you go through good times together, don’t make noise to the world when things go bad. It’s just like husband and wife, don’t take your quarrels outside,” he added.

His comments, carried on several local media outlets, came as Antara news agency reported the haze situation worsening over Dumai, Riau province, yesterday morning, with several local residents thinking of evacuating to areas with cleaner air.

On Saturday, Antara also reported that the government was wary of some parties trying to carry out a “black campaign” to take advantage of the haze situation to discredit Indonesia globally.

Both Malaysia and Singapore officials have offered help to their Indonesian counterparts, but Indonesia has yet to respond.

However, Coordinating Minister for People’s Welfare Agung Laksono last week said Indonesia did not need help, adding that Singapore was “acting like a child” over the haze.

Yesterday, Jero also told reporters that both Malaysia and Singapore had made much profit from Indonesia all this while, news website merdeka.com reported.

“But they were now trying to discredit Indonesia when they should help,” he said, citing how Malaysia had benefited from bilateral cooperation with Indonesia, including electricity imports from Indonesia.

Likewise, he said, Singapore had benefited from Indonesia’s gas supply as well as the large number of Indonesian tourists visiting Singapore.

Both countries should sit together to resolve the problem without making a big deal of it to the world, he added.

“Moreover, there are indications Malaysian companies are involved in burning to clear land. If this is true, both countries’ image will be tarnished globally,” he added.

The Indonesian government, he said, was also doing its utmost to put out the fires.

Yesterday, local media also reported that police in Rokan Hilir, Riau, arrested two individuals alleged to have started large fires on their land, which rapidly spread to neighbouring areas. – The Straits Times / Asia News Network