Indonesia vows to check raging fires in Sumatra

  • Nation
  • Saturday, 26 Jun 2004

KUALA LUMPUR: Indonesia is seeking help to put out the raging fires in Sumatra – the source of the haze over neighbouring Malaysia – and taking to court those who carry out open burning. 

Indonesian Embassy deputy chief of mission Suherman Obon said his country would be happy to accept Malaysia's assistance. 

“Our ambassador has reported the situation in Malaysia to Jakarta.  

“We’ll try our best to solve the problem and welcome outside assistance as we don’t want to harm any country, be it Indonesia, Malaysia or Singapore,” he said yesterday. 

He said Indonesia would act against companies and individuals responsible for open burning. 

Bernama reports that Indonesia was initiating legal action against farmers and plantation companies that set the fires in Sumatra and Kalimantan. 

Quoting a report in The Jakarta Post, it said State Minister of Environment Nabiel Makarim had ordered his staff to investigate the rogue firms and farmers so that they could be promptly brought to justice. 

The Post quoted officials from his office as saying that five companies in Riau province of Sumatra had already been reported to the police. 

Violators could be sentenced to a maximum five years’ jail under Indonesian law. 

In a related development, DOE director-general Rosnani Ibarahim said the ban on open burning in Penang had been lifted, as air quality had improved on the island. 

She said visibility in Penang had increased to 10km. 

She added that the DOE had found three open burning incidences in Bukit Cheeding, Banting and Batang Berjuntai and an agriculture farm in Johan Setia, Port Klang.  

“We are making the necessary enforcement.” 

The DOE has said air quality in Ipoh and Seri Manjung in Perak, Port Klang and Shah Alam was unhealthy, with Air Pollutant Index (API) readings exceeding 100. 

Rosnani said the DOE had been informed by its Indonesian counterpart that 456 personnel and local communities were involved in fighting the fires in Sumatra. 

She said 36 hotspots were spotted in Sumatra on Thursday. 

Tourism Minister Datuk Dr Leo Michael Toyad said tourists were still arriving as usual despite the haze. 

The haze is only affecting parts of the country, he told reporters after presenting a working paper on the second day of the Ninth National Civil Service Conference in Bukit Kiara here today.  

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