PETALING JAYA: Malaysia, Singapore, Russia and Japan will help Indonesia put out Kalimantan and Sumatra forest fires that are causing the terrible haze in the region.
After initially rejecting all offers of assistance to beat out the flames, Indonesia finally decided to let the other nations help.
The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) will be sending a Bombardier CL415MP amphibious aircraft.
Working with the Royal Malaysian Air Force, the MMEA will use the aircraft to douse fires at locations determined by the Indonesian authorities.
Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said Indonesian President Joko Widodo had, through Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, asked Malaysia for help.
Joko, in a statement yesterday, said he needed aircraft that could carry between 12 and 15 tonnes of water each.
He said he hoped this would help speed up the process of putting out the fires, which are on peat soil, making them harder to extinguish unlike regular forest fires.
Singapore would send three aircraft while Russia would deploy several water bombers, said Joko, who is popularly known as Jokowi.
Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar welcomed Indonesia’s request for assistance.
“This should be regarded as a positive development in regional cooperation,” he said.
He said he made the offer on behalf of Malaysia to help Indonesia about three weeks ago.
In 1997, during the worst transboundary haze incident, Malaysia sent 1,200 firemen to Indonesia for 28 days to help put out fires in various locations there.
Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman and his Indonesian counterpart Retno Marsudi will discuss cooperative efforts on transboundary haze at a two-day meeting in Kuala Lumpur that starts today.
The 14th Meeting of the Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation between Malaysia and Indonesia will see both ministers also discussing a number of bilateral issues.
Dr Wan Junaidi, in another statement yesterday, said the haze situation in Malaysia was expected to improve until Monday, due to more rainfall here following the end of tropical storm Mujigae over north Vietnam.
“However, transboundary haze from Sumatra and Kalimantan will still affect the air quality in the country,” he said.
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