New Straits Times - THAT was some reminder from Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak on Sunday about the haze and Indonesia. He said the perennial environmental problem would not have recurred if the Indonesian Government had the determination to address it once and for all.
"As far as we are concerned, there is not much that we can do about the Indonesian fires. Our ability to resolve the problem will largely depend on the determination of the Indonesian Government to address the matter. This will be our major challenge."
The Indonesians, it has to be remembered, are still not a signatory to the Asean Transboundary Haze agreement. They don’t look like they are in a hurry to be either. And that speaks volumes about their goodwill and commitment.
At the height of the problem last year, for instance, instead of taking steps to put out the forest fires, the Indonesians blamed several Malaysian plantation companies operating in Sumatra and Kalimantan as being responsible for the open burning.
That’s not a problem at all to Malaysia even if it were true, except that nothing was done about it. It remains unclear to this day whether these companies have been punished at all.
This was totally against the spirit shown by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono who, in a speech to commemorate International Earth Day in April, said he was ashamed of the haze that spreads to Singapore and Malaysia from forest fires in Indonesia every year.
He also ordered ministers and governors in Sumatra and Kalimantan to anticipate the dry season in July, August and September and prevent a repeat of the haze.
It must also be remembered that Susilo and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, at their bilateral delegation meeting in Bukit Tinggi, Sumatra in January, had also touched on the haze situation among many others.
Indonesia gave its commitment, in this instance, with Susilo pledging that his country would do its best to contain it and manage the situation and that they wouldn’t wait till the dry season before acting.
Well, looks like things have not changed at all for the past 10 years.