KUALA LUMPUR – Indonesia on Thursday assured its ASEAN neighbours that there will be no transboundary haze problems plaguing the region’s skyline this year.
Indonesian Environment and Forestry Ministry advisor Arief Yuwono said the prediction was based on last year’s record following stringent measures successfully implemented to curb forest fire and control smoke haze pollution in the republic.
“In 2017, we already make observation and comparison to 2016.
“With a weaker El Niño and the system already activated on the ground, we anticipate that we can repeat that (2016), which saw almost zero recurrence of haze,” he said when met after attending the 19th Technical Working Group & Sub-Regional Ministerial Steering Committee on Transboundary Haze Pollution, held here.
The two-day high-level meeting was chaired by Natural Resources and Environment Minister Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar.
Besides Wan Junaidi and Arief, their counterparts from Brunei, Singapore and Thailand also attended the meeting.
Following a bad bout of haze pollution in 2015, Indonesia last year began to take serious steps to address the annual environmental problem, which yielded a positive outcome with Singapore only reported one day of haze while Malaysia, three days.
Arief said the Indonesian government had since early this year began to put in place measures to prevent and mitigate smoke haze pollutions, including a better-organised fire fighter teams and had activated integrated patrols in areas that are prone to a forest fire.
He said the Indonesian government also get the private companies to involve proactively in curbing forest fire and haze.
“Forest fire is a national priority and it is supervised by our President (Joko Widodo). In early 2017, the President already gave us the instructions related to forest fire from the policy maker to the ground level.
“Besides that, we also have a strong commitment to law enforcement, with some companies are now being investigated (for causing haze pollutions),” he said.
Earlier, in the news conference after chairing the meeting, Wan Junaidi also said the Indonesian minister had given his assurance on the issue in the meeting.
He said Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei and Thailand also reaffirmed their readiness to provide assistance if requested and to work with Indonesia for emergency response when necessary.
The five ASEAN countries also reaffirmed their commitment to work towards a Haze Free ASEAN by 2020, he added. – BERNAMA