Jakarta 'will complete review of S'pore schemes next week'

A senior Indonesian environment official said yesterday that a review of collaborative programmes between Indonesia and Singapore will be completed by next week.

Mr Bambang Hendroyono, secretary-general of the Environment and Forestry Ministry, did not elaborate but his comments come after tensions between the neighbours increased over Singapore's decision to take action against a director of an Indonesian company linked to last year's haze.

On May 14, Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar reportedly said certain bilateral collaborations would be terminated and others subjected to a "substantial review". Her comments came after the National Environment Agency (NEA) obtained a court warrant against the company director after he failed to turn up for an interview despite being served a legal notice to explain his firm's measures to tackle fires on its land.

The NEA has said its actions were in line with the Transboundary Haze Pollution Act 2014, which allows for prosecution of companies that cause the haze. But some critics say the NEA's move was an attack on Indonesia's sovereignty.

Mr Bambang told reporters Indonesia was "fighting hard" to prevent a repeat of last year's haze and going after errant companies responsible for the wildfires.

"We hope, from government to government, that we can respect each other...  we have done a lot of things with the same intentions," he told reporters on the sidelines of a meeting on forest fire and haze management.

He said countries "cannot just be looking from one perspective".

The ministry's director of forest fire control Raffles Panjaitan had stronger words. He said: "Don't let others harass us and destroy our companies. They're our people."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 25, 2016, with the headline 'Jakarta 'will complete review of S'pore schemes next week''. Print Edition | Subscribe