Any company causing fires to be punished: President

Any company causing fires to be punished: President

Forests fire in Riau. (ANTARA FOTO/FB Anggoro) ()

President Yudhoyono said right now the government is prioritizing on fighting the fires because they have disrupted people`s activities in Riau and its environs including Singapore and Malaysia.
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has pledged punishment for any company found negligent to cause forest and land fires in Riau province.

"With regard to smog issue I have heard statements from Singapore and few from Malaysia calling for punishment for companies (responsible) with assumptions they are Indonesian companies but our fellow citizens at home have also suspected of involvement of companies from the neighboring countries as well. I said the law will be enforced on anyone or any company from any country that has caused the disaster," he said at a press conference here on Wednesday.

President Yudhoyono said right now the government is prioritizing on fighting the fires because they have disrupted people`s activities in Riau and its environs including Singapore and Malaysia.

He said the deployment of a fire fighting task force consisting of more than 2,000 personnel and efforts to fight the fires through cloud seeding and water bombing showed that the government was maximal in dealing with the fires.

President Yudhoyono criticized the Riau provincial government for being too slow in anticipating and handling the fires causing the government to finally hand over the task to the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB).

He said however that the most important thing to do now was extinguishing the fires immediately adding finger pointing must be stopped.

President Yudhoyono also appealed to parties in Malaysia and Singapore not to be overly with regard to forest and land fires and smog problem.

"Through the lesson, from what has happened in the past week I hope bilateral relations with the two countries could be maintained well as close countries are expected moreover we are common ASEAN members that strong characters and culture of respecting each other. Let us maintain the good relations by preserving the spirit of friendship," he said.

With regard to his recent offer of an apology to the neighboring countries President Yudhoyono said he could understand that some had agreed and others had disagreed with it.

He said the apology was offered in the context of smog problems and not others.

"What is clear and the fact is that smoke that flew to Singapore came from Indonesia or Riau. The air pollution level has reached above 300 meaning it is already under a health menacing category and it has also disrupted the daily activities of the people. The same condition had also affected our brothers in Riau. As it has come from Indonesia we are responsible and offering an apology under the context, I think, is not too much," he said.

President Yudhoyono said "there are pros and cons with regard to why the Indonesian president has to apologize because this is not a deliberate action. Some however have praised it as showing Indonesia`s big-heartedness. We hope our neighbors would also do the same thing in case they hurt Indonesian people."

President Yudhoyono said the deployment of huge forces to fight the fires was not free of pressures but it had been done to show Indonesia`s responsibility as a good neighbor.

"No country may command Indonesia as a sovereign country or me. What has been done is fully my decision," he said.

"Under the current situation swift and serious actions must indeed be taken to quickly solve the problem. That is what we must do. With smog of that thickness activities of our fellow citizens in Riau have been disrupted," he said. (*)

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