JAKARTA: Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar will leave for Jakarta on Friday to discuss long-term measures to combat the haze problem, said Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
He added that Malaysia would cooperate with Indonesia to tackle the problem.
“He will arrive in Jakarta on Sept 25 to hold further talks with Indonesia and other Asean partners,” he told a press conference at the Malaysian embassy here yesterday after attending a gathering with Malaysians living in the Indonesian capital.
Last Friday, Dr Ahmad Zahid had said that Malaysia and Indonesia would implement long-term measures to resolve the cross-border haze problem.
The haze, which affects several countries in South-East Asia, is a recurring annual problem. The main cause is said to be forest burning activities for the cultivation of oil palm and other crops in Indonesia, mainly in Sumatra and Kalimantan.
On Malaysia’s efforts to provide assistance to Malaysians in Indonesian areas that were badly hit by the haze, he said he would discuss the matter with Malaysia’s ambassador to Indonesia Datuk Seri Zahrain Mohamed Hashim, as well as with student leaders.
Commenting on his four-day visit to Indonesia since Friday – his first trip overseas since his appointment as Deputy Prime Minister on July 28 – Dr Ahmad Zahid said he chose Indonesia as his first foreign destination, following the tradition of all newly appointed prime ministers and deputy prime ministers of Malaysia.
“I conducted several discussions on bilateral relations, including issues of common importance, such as the need to enhance exchange of intelligence information between enforcement agencies, especially in tackling the threat of terrorism.
“We also discussed the Indonesian workforce in Malaysia as well as their welfare. The process of amnesty for Indonesian illegal immigrants (in Malaysia) was also discussed,” he said.
Dr Ahmad Zahid also paid a courtesy call on Indonesian President Joko Widodo at the Presidential Palace in Bogor, about 50km from here.
The visit, which lasted about an hour, was an unscheduled programme for Dr Ahmad Zahid after the president sent him an invitation.
“What is important is that the informal relations between the two countries have resolved several problems, including that of the process of bringing in Indonesian workers, as well as the system for legalising workers who want to return to Indonesia with the cooperation of the Indonesian Embassy in Kuala Lumpur.
“We have asked them (the Indonesian Embassy) to issue travel documents and the individual will pay a fine which depends on the duration of their stay in Malaysia,” Dr Ahmad Zahid added. — Bernama