PUTRAJAYA - Malaysia said on Friday (Sept 18) it should not be blamed for any wrongdoing by its companies in connection with forest fires in Indonesia that have contributed to the haze.
Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar was quoted saying by The Star that if anyone was to be blamed, it should be the companies, or the individuals responsible for the companies.
"Malaysia, the Government or the ministry cannot be blamed if our investors, who are investing in Indonesia, did something wrong there. Blame the companies or the individuals," he said after chairing a meeting on the haze situation in Putrajaya on Friday.
Dr Wan Junaidi had been asked to comment on a blog post which had blamed Malaysia for the haze. He said he had read what was written in the blog and did not agree with the allegations.
Dr Wan Junaidi is expected to meet his Indonesian counterpart next week to discuss measures to tackle the haze, after worsening air quality forced some schools in Sarawak to close on Thursday.
The meeting in Jakarta next Friday will focus on collaboration between Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Brunei and Thailand to battle the haze.
Separately, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said both the Malaysian and Indonesian governments would come up with long-term measures to solve the haze problem.
Dr Zahid was speaking from Jakarta where he attended a bilateral meeting with Indonesian vice-president Jusuf Kalla and other Indonesian officials, the New Straits Times reported.
Malaysia was on Friday evacuating some 173 of its citizens from Pekanbaru in the haze-hit Indonesian province of Riau, the Bernama news agency reported. According to the report, the Foreign Ministry was to deploy two Air Force C-130 aircrafts to evacuate the Malaysians, the majority of them students and their family members.
The Foreign Ministry has also set up an operations room to monitor the haze situation in Indonesia and to assist affected Malaysians in and around Riau Province.
The haze, caused by illegal forest fires in Sumatra and Kalimantan, has blanketed parts of Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore in recent weeks.