Call to stop open burning by farmers

KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysia has urged Indonesia to rethink allowing its smallholders to carry out open burning to clear land.

This traditional method, if stopped, would help lessen the transboundary haze that plagues Malaysia annually, Natural Resources and Environment Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar was quoted as saying by Bernama news agency.

"I understand that it is a tradition for Indonesia, but if possible, we would like it to be stopped," he said at a press conference after opening the 18th International Surveyors' Congress on Thursday.

"I was told that every smallholder with land less than 2ha is allowed to conduct open burning, but what happens if there are 100 such farmers?"

Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi said the decision laid with Indonesia on how to handle land clearing because it was an internal affair.

RETHINK BURNING METHOD

I was told that every smallholder with land less than 2ha is allowed to conduct open burning, but what happens if there are 100 such farmers?

MALAYSIA'S NATURAL RESOURCES AND ENVIRONMENT MINISTER WAN JUNAIDI TUANKU JAAFAR, asking Indonesia to rethink allowing its smallholders to carry out open burning to clear land.

He said Malaysia could only ask Indonesia to proactively take steps to lessen the impact, such as by putting out the fires immediately and closely supervising its peat areas.

Dr Wan Junaidi was confident that the transboundary haze issue could be solved through the government-to-government (G2G) initiative proposed by Indonesia.

A technical meeting will take place on May 30 in Indonesia to discuss the instruments needed for the G2G initiative.

On Wednesday, the media quoted Dr Wan Junaidi as saying that Malaysia was expected to face haze problems starting next month until October, as a result of hot and dry weather in Sumatra and Kalimantan.

He also disclosed on Thursday that the Malaysian government is going to get tough on those who adopt slash- and-burn techniques to clear land.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 14, 2016, with the headline 'Call to stop open burning by farmers'. Print Edition | Subscribe