If forest fires occur, Singapore can interfere without the need to ask for a permit."Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Indonesia needs to take a participatory approach where the central government, local administrations, non-governmental organizations, research institutions and the local people work together to resolve the annual haze problem, which often disturbed neighboring countries.
"In addition to a participatory approach, there should also be a political approach and scientific research on how to handle it," Asmin Amin, a member of Commission VII of the House of Representatives (DPR) on environment Affairs, said recently.
Moreover, Indonesia has not yet ratified the ASEAN agreement on Trans-boundary Haze Pollution, which will allow neighboring countries to provide assistance in resolving the haze problem in Indonesia.
According to Indonesian Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan, Singapore and Malaysia are ready to assist if they are needed. "They said they are ready to assist if they are needed," the minister added after a meeting with Singapores Environment and Water Resources Minister Vivian Balakrishnan on Monday.
However, he asserted that the House of Representatives (DPR) had not ratified the ASEAN Agreement on Trans-boundary Haze Pollution because the House was now in a transitional period.
The House members for the 2009-2014 period will end their terms of office this year after the legislative elections on April 9 and after the presidential election on July 9 was organized.
According to Wikipedia, the ASEAN Agreement on Trans-boundary Haze Pollution is a legally binding environmental agreement signed in 2002 by all the ASEAN nations to reduce haze pollution in Southeast Asia. The agreement recognizes that the trans-boundary haze pollution, which results from land and/or forest fires, should be mitigated through concerted national efforts and international cooperation.
Ministers responsible for the environment from the ASEAN Member States (AMS) held their 14th Informal ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on the Environment and the 9th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the ASEAN Agreement on Trans-boundary Haze Pollution on September 25, 2013, in Surabaya, Indonesia.
They will meet again in Laos in September in 2014 on the occasion of the 15th Informal ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on the Environment and the 10th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the ASEAN Agreement on Trans-boundary Haze Pollution.
Minister Zulkifli Hasan said his ministry was now waiting for the ratification of the ASEAN agreement.
"We, including the ministry of home affairs and the ministry of environment, are waiting for the ratification of the ASEAN agreement by the DPR. It should have been ratified by now but the House is in a transitional period. The members are focusing on the presidential election," the minister pointed out.
Zulkifli Hasan said the House once discussed the ratification of the agreement but the DPR rejected it, saying that the content of agreement should be improved first.
Regarding the rejection of the agreement, Asmin explained that the reason for the rejection was that it provided a loophole for foreign countries to interfere in domestic affairs.
"If forest fires occur, Singapore can interfere without the need to ask for a permit. This was the reason why it was rejected. We turned it back. We were afraid that if we agreed, we will only become an observer (in handling the haze)," Asmin added.
Meanwhile, Singapore, one of the nearest neighboring country often affected by the Indonesian haze, said the forest and land fire perpetrators should receive firm punishment.
According to Minister Zulkifli Hasan, the Indonesian government was asked to act firmly against perpetrators of forest fires in Riau Province, which crippled infrastructure and peoples activities and sent haze to neighboring countries.
"We discussed efforts to enforce the law. Singapore said companies that committed the crime should be punished," Minister Zulkifli Hasan said after a bilateral meeting with Minister Vivian Balakrishnan on Monday.
Recent forest and land fires in Riau have affected more than 20 thousand hectares of forest, plantation and peat-soil areas throughout the province. They disrupted around 30 percent of the economic activities and caused monetary losses in Riau.
Based on data from the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), forest and land fires occurring in the Riau Province between February and April 2014 have caused economic losses worth more than Rp20 trillion.
Police have named 116 people as suspects in the forest and plantation fires in the province.
They were allegedly involved in 70 cases being investigated by the local police officers throughout Riau province. Of the 70 cases, nine are still being investigated further, while 61 others are considered ready to be brought to court.
Meanwhile, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono recently stated that the work to prevent land fires in the Riau province was conducted systematically and involved all parties, so the handling of land fires should not become a regular agenda.
"April through October will be the dry season. The root problem that causes the land fires must be tackled, and it is the only way to overcome the haze problem in Riau," the president explained.
Reporter: Andi Abdussalam
Editor: Priyambodo RH
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