Don`t think that Indonesia was silent."
Kuala Lumpur (ANTARA News) - ASEAN environment ministers have praised Indonesia for its quick act to combat land and forest fires that caused air pollution in neighboring countries.

They also lauded Indonesia`s commitment to speeding up the process of ratifying an ASEAN agreement on transboundary haze pollution, according to the result of a haze pollution-related meeting in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday.

Also attending the "15th Meeting of the Sub-regional Ministerial Steering Committee on Transboundary Haze Pollution were ASEAN Secretary General Le Luong Minh, Brunei, Indonesian, Malaysian, and Singapore environment ministers and Thai deputy environment minister.

The ministers said Indonesia`s efforts to fight land and forest fires indicated its capacity to prevent the fires from spreading.

Yet they underscored the need for the country to adopt an early warning system to prevent the land and forest fires from a recurrence in the future.

They also affirmed their offer to help fight forest fires if needed.

Indonesian Environment Minister Balthazar Kambuaya said Indonesia was very serious about handling land and forest fires in Riau province which caused thick haze a few weeks ago in view of their impact on many parties.

"Don`t think that Indonesia was silent. As a matter of fact, we made as maximum efforts as possible to put out the land and forest fires," he said.

The maximum efforts were made because Indonesia wanted to serve the interests of the local people whose health was at greater risk rather than to satisfy the interests of its neighboring countries such as Singapore and Malaysia, he said.

"We paid great attention to the health of the people living near the land and forest fires in Riau province," he said.

Kambuaya said the Indonesian government had proposed to the House of Representatives (DPR) to ratify the ASEAN agreement on transboundary haze pollution.

"We hope the DPR would approve the proposal at the end of this year," he said. ***1***

Reporting by N. Aulia Badar


(T.SYS/A/S012/A/H-YH) 17-07-2013 21:02:05

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