PUTRAJAYA: The government may consider enacting a law that will hold Malaysian companies responsible for fires on their estates abroad, said Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
This is especially if burning within their plantations is found to have contributed to the haze situation choking South-East Asia.
“We want to take action against Malaysian firms which have estates outside the country that are contributing towards the haze because of the burning in their estates.
“We will ask them to put out the fires. But of course, if we find that they are unwilling to take action, we may have to pass a law, which will make them responsible for fires in their property even if it is outside Malaysia, ” the Prime Minister told reporters after launching the new Malaysian Foreign Policy Framework yesterday.
Dr Mahathir said this was among the measures to tackle the haze situation discussed in yesterday’s Cabinet meeting.
Previously, Indonesia claimed that four companies out of the 30 that had been identified as the culprits behind the fires that were causing the haze were subsidiaries of Malaysian firms.
Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin said Indonesia had full power to enforce the law on its land, even if the companies were Malaysian.
Malaysia does not have a transboundary haze law that allows it to punish its companies for causing air pollution overseas.
Besides punitive actions, Dr Mahathir said the Cabinet also agreed that there should be more public disclosure on the locations of hotspots that were contributing to the haze.
He said this was because there continues to be a dispute, especially with Indonesia, on the origin of the haze and who is responsible for it.
“We should publicise more where the hotspots are situated through government statements. Our people already have raised this matter with Indonesian ministers.
“But they claimed the haze is from Malaysia. That’s why we should publish maps showing satellite pictures of hotspots, ” he said.
The haze in Malaysia continues to worsen, with readings in some areas reaching hazardous levels and thousands of schools have been ordered closed.
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