Indonesia MP Hamdhani Mukhdar Said apologises for haze blanketing region

Indonesian firefighters and military personnel extinguish a wildfire on peat land in Rimbo Panjang, Kampar, in Riau province on Sept 6, 2015.
Indonesian firefighters and military personnel extinguish a wildfire on peat land in Rimbo Panjang, Kampar, in Riau province on Sept 6, 2015. PHOTO: EPA

KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - An Indonesian Member of Parliament has apologised for the haze currently blanketing the region.

Mr Hamdhani Mukhdar Said, who is in charge of environment and international relations, said he would raise the issue with the Indonesian Parliament for more efforts to deal with the haze situation.

"I want to apologise to the Malaysian people for the haze.

"The annual haze is not intentional but due to the drought that affects parts of Sumatra and Kalimantan," he told reporters during a break in the 36th General Assembly of the Asean Inter-Parliamentary Assembly here on Tuesday (Sept 8).

He said the Indonesian central government has allocated US$1 million (S$1.43 million) to provinces affected by peat and forest fires.

"We will request more allocation from the government to help fight the fires," he added.

The haze affecting Malaysia and Singapore is a result of widespread clearing of forests in Indonesia for oil palm plantations.

The Indonesian National Disaster Mitigation Agency has deployed three more helicopters to fight the haze-producing fires in Sumatra, bringing the total number to 13, but some environmentalists said that is still far too few.

The haze is making life miserable for as many as 22.6 million residents in Sumatra and three million in Kalimantan.