Review of Singapore-Indonesia haze-linked programmes to be done by next week: Jakarta environmental official

The haze on Sept 10, 2015, obscured the view of the Jalan Toa Payoh stretch of the Pan-Island Expressway. PHOTO: ST FILE

JAKARTA - A senior Indonesian environmental official said on Tuesday (May 24) that a review of collaborative programmes between Indonesia and Singapore will be completed by next week.

Mr Bambang Hendroyono, Secretary-General of the Environment and Forestry Ministry, did not elaborate but his comments come after tensions between the neighbours increased over Singapore's decision to take action against a director of an Indonesian company linked to last year's haze.

On May 14, Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar reportedly said that certain bilateral collaborations would be terminated and others subjected to a "substantial review".

The Indonesian government has not elaborated on the collaborative programmes.

Ms Siti's comments came after Singapore's National Environment Agency (NEA) obtained a court warrant against an Indonesian company director after he failed to turn up for an interview despite being served a legal notice to do so. The director, whose name and company were not disclosed, was expected to explain his firm's measures to tackle fires on its land.

The NEA has said that its actions were in line with the Transboundary Haze Pollution Act 2014, which allows for prosecution of companies that cause the haze. But some critics say the NEA's move was an attack on the nation's sovereignty.

Mr Bambang told reporters that Indonesia was "fighting hard" not only to prevent a repeat of last year's haze and was also going after errant companies responsible for the wildfires.

"We hope from government to government, that we can respect each other... we have done a lot of things with the same intentions, that there will be no more haze, no more forest fires," he told reporters on the sidelines of a meeting on forest fire and haze management among relevant ministries, agencies and companies in Jakarta.

Without singling out Singapore, he said countries "cannot just be looking from one perspective".

The ministry's director of forest fire control Raffles Panjaitan had stronger words. He told reporters: "Don't let others harass us and destroy our companies. They're our people."

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