NEA gets court warrant against haze-linked firm's director

A director of an Indonesian company suspected of contributing to last year's haze did not turn up for an interview with the authorities here, even though he was served with a legal notice to attend it when he was in Singapore.

But the director, who has since left Singapore, can be detained if he tries to enter Singapore again.

The National Environment Agency (NEA) said yesterday that it has obtained a court warrant against the director to secure his attendance when he enters Singapore. It did not name him or his company, which is believed to have started fires or let its concessions burn.

"This means that if the director enters Singapore, he can be detained by NEA officers for the purpose of investigations," said an NEA spokesman, adding that the move is in accordance with Singapore's Transboundary Haze Pollution Act.

The Act, passed in 2014, was wielded for the first time last year to punish those responsible for causing or condoning fires if burning results in unhealthy levels of haze here. Those found guilty can be fined up to $100,000 a day, capped at a total of $2 million, for causing unhealthy haze, defined as a 24-hour Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) value of 101 or greater for 24 hours or more.

NEA sent six Indonesia-based firms notices under the Act asking them to explain steps they are taking to put out and prevent fires on their land. NEA's latest move comes after Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli said in April that only two firms had replied. Referring to the same director who missed the interview, Mr Masagos said the director, who is from one of the other four firms, had been served a notice to give information about his company's steps to mitigate fires on its land and prevent a repeat of last year's haze.

Audrey Tan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 12, 2016, with the headline 'NEA gets court warrant against haze-linked firm's director'. Print Edition | Subscribe