Jokowi: I promised KL and S'pore there'd be fewer fires this year

President Joko Widodo reminded all Indonesian officials of the need to continue to prevent forest and plantation fires, adding that the leaders of Malaysia and Singapore had praised him for the progress made so far.

The Indonesian leader also said he had issued a guarantee of fewer forest fires for this year.

Mr Joko, speaking yesterday at a national coordination meeting on forest and plantation fire mitigation at the Merdeka Palace, said: "In 2015, every time I met with the Singapore and Malaysian prime ministers, they complained to me about the haze."

Mr Joko said the situation had improved vastly since then, with the number of hot spots falling significantly.

He added that 2015 saw a total of 21,929 hot spots throughout the year, but the number dropped to 3,915 in 2016 and to 2,567 last year.

Mr Joko said he had promised the Malaysian and Singapore leaders that the number could be reduced further this year.

"I have given them my guarantee," he said. He also reminded those attending the meeting that he had issued a warning after the 2015 fires, when he said he would sack the provincial police chief or territorial military chief in charge of an area where forest fires were not handled well.

Harsher law enforcement when dealing with errant corporations and individuals - and better fire prevention measures by the government and private sector in recent years - have led to a fall in the number of hot spots, according to Indonesia's disaster management agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho. Favourable weather conditions have also helped.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 07, 2018, with the headline 'Jokowi: I promised KL and S'pore there'd be fewer fires this year'. Print Edition | Subscribe