International panel submits report on transboundary pollution and haze

Haze shrouds the skyline from Marina Bay Sands to the new stadium being built in Kallang in the afternoon on April 22, 2014. An international panel set up by the Government in March to advise it on transboundary pollution issues, including the h
Haze shrouds the skyline from Marina Bay Sands to the new stadium being built in Kallang in the afternoon on April 22, 2014. An international panel set up by the Government in March to advise it on transboundary pollution issues, including the haze, has submitted its report. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - An international panel set up by the Government in March to advise it on transboundary pollution issues, including the haze, has submitted its report.

On Monday, the Environment and Water Resources Ministry (MEWR) said the eight-member panel provided a detailed analysis of options Singapore can turn to to tackle the haze, including "possible cooperative measures and international legal options".

It also gave its views on the Transboundary Haze Pollution Bill passed in parliament last month, and examined the norms and principles of international law relating to transboundary pollution.

The Government is studying the confidential report and does not plan to publish recommendations from it, a MEWR spokesman said. He added that many of the recommendations are cooperative in nature, and will mean Singapore working together with Indonesia and other countries in the region.

The recommendations are not binding, said the spokesman, adding: "The Government will decide on how to follow up, after taking into account all relevant considerations."

The panel comprised six international law experts from Sierra Leone, South Korea, Britain and the US.

It was co-chaired by Professor S Jayakumar and Professor Tommy Koh, both of the National University of Singapore (NUS). The former was previously deputy prime minister, and the latter is also Ambassador-at-Large at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

It also consulted other law experts from Indonesia and Singapore, including Professor Emil Salim, head of Indonesia's presidential advisory council, and Professor Simon Tay, chairman of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs (SIIA).

Singapore has yet to be hit by severe haze this year, after last year's record-breaking episode.

The newly enacted Transboundary Haze Pollution Bill aims to hold companies and other entities liable for fires on their land that cause haze in Singapore, but questions have been raised over how it will be enforced.

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