Jokowi threatens to fire police chiefs if haze engulfs Indonesia again

Haze in Pekanbaru, Indonesia, in 2019. Southeast Asia has been spared from haze in the last three years as wetter-than-normal dry seasons curb fires. PHOTO: ST FILE

JAKARTA - Indonesian President Joko Widodo warned the police to stop large fires from engulfing the country as the threat of El Nino – a dry weather pattern – looms across Indonesia.

If large fires were to happen in a province, the local police chiefs would be held accountable and dismissed as a result, said the President, also known as Jokowi, during a meeting of law enforcement officials on Wednesday. 

South-east Asia has been spared from a choking haze in the last three years as wetter-than-normal dry seasons curbed fires. In 2019, smog blanketed parts of Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia for months as more than 1.6 million ha of land was burnt across Indonesia.

The weather agency expects the dry season in 2023 to be more intense than in the previous three years, but there is still a 50 per cent chance that the El Nino pattern would be weak.

Mr Widodo also warned the police to crack down on illegal mining to ensure it does not disrupt his push to downstream the country’s commodities exports. BLOOMBERG

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