Former SEC head parts ways with haze-linked company

Asia Pulp and Paper said that Mr Jose Raymond, who joined the firm in January, left because of the economic downturn.
Asia Pulp and Paper said that Mr Jose Raymond, who joined the firm in January, left because of the economic downturn.ST FILE PHOTO

Former Singapore Environment Council (SEC) chief Jose Raymond has left Indonesian firm Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) after just eight months.

Mr Raymond, 44, had joined APP - one of the Indonesian companies blamed for last year's record-breaking haze - in January. At the time, he had pledged to help the company "move along its green journey".

When contacted, APP said only that Mr Raymond left due to the economic downturn.

"Particularly in Singapore, the haze issue has had an impact on APP. As such, we regret to announce that as at Sept 1, 2016, Jose Raymond, vice-president of corporate affairs in Singapore, has left APP," an APP spokesman told The Straits Times.

When approached, Mr Raymond declined comment, citing confidentiality clauses.

Another former SEC staff member, Mr Kavickumar Muruganathan, 27, is still with APP as its sustainability and stakeholder engagement manager.

Anti-haze groups say Mr Raymond's departure is surprising. As recently as May, he was quoted saying that he was keen to change the public's negative perception of the company.

APP is accused of being one of the biggest culprits behind the haze that clouded Singapore's skies last year.

In September last year, it was served a notice under Singapore's Transboundary Haze Pollution Act to provide information on its subsidiaries and measures taken by its Indonesian suppliers to put out fires on concession lands.

That sparked a chain reaction, which eventually led to major supermarket chains such as FairPrice and Giant pulling APP products off their shelves. There were also calls for people to boycott APP products, which range from the Paseo brand of toilet rolls to the FairPrice brand of facial tissue.

Since then, APP said it has measures to prevent and control fire on its concessions. For instance, it has invested in thermal imaging cameras, detection data, water- bombing helicopters and other hardware and training activities needed to detect and suppress fires as early as possible.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 15, 2016, with the headline 'Former SEC head parts ways with haze-linked company'. Print Edition | Subscribe