Stop slash and burn by farmers, Jakarta told

Hazardous situation: An aerial picture showing thick smoke rising from the open burning in Riau recently. — EPA

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia has urged Indonesia to rethink allowing its smallholders to carry out open burning to clear land.

This traditional method, if stopped, will help lessen the transboundary haze that plagues Malaysia annually, said Natural Resource and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar.

“I understand that it is a tradition for Indonesia but if possible, we would like it to be stopped.

“I was told that every smallholder with land less than two hectares is allowed to conduct open burning but what happens if there are 100 such farmers,” he said at a press conference after opening the 18th International Surveyors’ Congress yesterday.

Wan Junaidi said the decision lay with Indonesia on how to handle land clearing because it was an internal affair.

He said Malaysia could only ask Indonesia to proactively take steps to lessen the impact, such as by putting out the fires immediately and closely supervising its peat areas.

“I was told that 20 concessions for plantations in peat areas in Indonesia have ended,” he said.

Also, Wan Junaidi was confident that the transboundary haze issue could be solved through the government to government (G2G) initiative proposed by Indonesia.

It was reported that a memorandum of understanding between Malaysia and Sumatra province on the issue could not go forward.

Indonesia instead proposed that the problem be addressed through G2G cooperation.

Wan Junaidi said the rationale behind this was logical, it would be more effective to tackle the haze with the cooperation of the Indonesian government.

A technical meeting will take place on May 30 in Indonesia to discuss the instruments needed for the G2G initiative.


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    Source: Department of Environment, Malaysia