Indonesian rep says its authorities committed to act against forest fires culprits

Ben Tan
Acrid smoke from illegal burning has covered western and central regions of Indonesia and parts of Malaysia, with thousands of people reporting acute respiratory illness. — AFP pic

JOHOR BARU, Sept 17 — The Indonesian government has given its commitment that it will take action against some 30 companies, including four Malaysian ones, for causing some of the forest fires in the country.

Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Southeast Asian Affairs director Denny Abd, said its authorities does not differentiate companies according to their country of origin.

He stressed that Indonesia is serious in taking action against any individuals or companies who deliberately take to open burning to clear their land.

“It does not matter if they are Malaysian-owned companies or even Indonesian-owned companies. We will take action against them under out law,” Denny told reporters after attending a business meeting and networking session organised by the Consulate-General of the Republic of Indonesia at the Paragon Hotel here.

He was responding to reports that Indonesian authorities had started a crackdown against individuals and companies responsible for the forest fires that have caused a thick haze in parts of Malaysia and Singapore, disrupting air travel and forcing the closure of schools.

On forest fires, Denny admitted that some companies had deliberately employed open burning methods as it was the cheapest way to clear the land during the current dry season.

He said Denny both the Indonesian and Malaysian governments are always in contact with one another as the impact of the haze has affected both the countries and its population.

The practice of “slash-and-burn” to clear land has been said to be the major cause for uncontrolled burning of forests, that leads to the haze.

Acrid smoke from illegal burning has covered western and central regions of Indonesia and parts of Malaysia, with thousands of people reporting acute respiratory illness.

It was reported that Indonesia has blamed 30 companies including four Malaysian companies for causing some of the forest fires within its borders.

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