Indonesian govt determined to resolve crisis: Eng Hen

Residents crossing the haze-shrouded Musi River in Palembang, South Sumatra province, yesterday. Indonesia's Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Luhut Panjaitan and Defence Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu gave the assurance tha
Residents crossing the haze-shrouded Musi River in Palembang, South Sumatra province, yesterday. Indonesia's Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Luhut Panjaitan and Defence Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu gave the assurance that progress has been made by Indonesia to prevent, rather than react to, the haze crisis, said Singapore Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen.PHOTO: REUTERS

Indonesia is determined to resolve the haze crisis for its own people and that is a good starting point, said Singapore Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen, after holding high-level talks with Indonesia's Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Luhut Panjaitan and Defence Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu in Jakarta on Monday.

"We talked about how (the haze) can be dealt with, and their motivation to deal with it was primarily because the health of their own citizens is being affected," said Dr Ng.

He added that the two ministers also gave the assurance that progress has been made by Indonesia to prevent, rather than react to, the crisis. "Prevention of haze requires engineering solutions - how to stop forest fires before they occur, as well as enforcement and legislation to stop errant companies that are resorting to slash-and-burn techniques for commercial reasons."

A third point that signalled to Dr Ng there was progress in mitigating the haze crisis was Mr Luhut's point that he is willing to work with non-governmental organisations to resolve the problem.

"And I think the more they open up - not only to Singapore but to other countries to help deal with this regional issue... I think better, quicker the solutions will be found," said Dr Ng.

Francis Chan

Wahyudi Soeriaatmadja

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 30, 2015, with the headline 'Indonesian govt determined to resolve crisis: Eng Hen'. Print Edition | Subscribe