KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NETWORK) - The ratification of the Asean Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution by Indonesia this year is a historic step in the collective effort by member nations to tackle the annual problem.
Prime Minister Najib Razak said ratification of the agreement was an "absolute necessity" and part of the Asean goal of promoting the right to clean air for member states.
"In January this year, Indonesia deposited the instrument of ratification of the Asean Agreement of Transboundary Haze Pollution with the Asean secretary-general.
"The agreement has now been ratified by all Asean member states," he said during his keynote address at the 36th General Assembly of the Asean Inter-Parliamentary Assembly here on Tuesday (Sept 8).
He noted the issue had become a topic of discussion with Malaysia being Asean's chair this year.
"This is the first regional agreement, which has become quite a topic, that binds a group of contiguous states to tackle transboundary haze pollution resulting in land and forest fires.
"It is a historic step and one that many of us in the region know all too well is an absolute necessity," he said.
Datuk Seri Najib's reference to the agreement comes as parts of Malaysia is blanketed by haze at unhealthy levels in several location, including Kuala Lumpur, which is host to several Asean programmes.
The transboundary agreement was first signed by Asean nations in 2002, with Malaysia being the first of the 10-nation regional grouping to ratify its laws to address the issue.
Indonesia was the final nation to sign the agreement in September last year and ratified its laws in 2015.
The agreement is a legally-binding environmental agreement by Asean members to reduce haze pollution in South-east Asia with concerted regional and international effort to address land and forest fires to deal with the annual haze.