Haze: Malaysia, Indonesia agree to work together to overcome haze problem

The Star, 27 Jun 2013

JAKARTA: Malaysia and Indonesia agreed to work together to find a permanent solution to the haze problem that affected the region said Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri G. Palanivel.

“Malaysia has expressed the hope that government officials from both countries could work constantly in monitoring and checking the hot spots, especially during the dry season to prevent forest and peat fires which contribute to the haze problem,” he told this to Malaysian journalists after meeting Indonesian Environment Minister Dr Balthasar Kambuaya, on Thursday.

The meeting with his Indonesian counterpart was cordial.

Palanivel also handed to Balthasar a letter from Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Abdul Razak to Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

During the meeting, Palanivel informed Balthasar that Malaysia was ready to offer assistance to Indonesia in fighting the forest and peat fires particularly in central Sumatra, including sending fire-fighters and water bombers, and a cloud seeding team.

“We are actually very deeply concerned with the constant recurrence of this transboundary haze.

“The important thing is for us to cooperate with Indonesia. Any time there is a haze problem, we have to work together to solve the problem immediately. So, we need short-term and long-term solutions,” he said.

Palanivel said Malaysia looked forward to Indonesia’s cooperation and decisive actions, both long-term and short-term, in dealing with the situation, while Malaysia was ready to provide all forms technical assistance, including sending manpower, equipment, waters bombers and doing cloud seeding in central Sumatra or any other area in Indonesia.

He said the Indonesian minister had conditionally agreed to any form of technical assistance offered by Malaysia in fighting the fires.

“However, Balthasar said that he would discuss with his colleagues in the other relevant ministries such as the agriculture and forestry ministries to outline details of the assistance they would seek,” he said.

On allegations that eight Malaysian companies were involved in open burning in their oil palm plantations in Riau, which were said to have caused the haze, severely affecting the air quality, Palanivel said only four of the said companies were from Malaysia and they had all denied any involvement in the activity.

The Malaysian companies, he said, practiced zero burning in their replanting activity and that there was no replanting activity by these companies this year.

During the meeting, Balthasar also informed Palanivel that Indonesia had deployed 2,600 army personnel to Riau to fight the fires and to date, the disaster team had used 80 water bombs to douse the fires.

Both ministers agreed to meet regularly to discuss and find ways to permanently stop the problem, which has been happening every year. – Bernama

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