Govt will not defend Malaysian companies contributing to the haze

KUALA LUMPUR: The government will not defend Malaysian companies operating overseas which contribute to transboundary haze, says Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad.

“We have reminded plantation companies operating in neighbouring countries that we will not defend them if they are involved in open burning (especially) in Indonesia,” the Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change Minister said during Ministers' Question Time in the Dewan Rakyat on Thursday (Oct 12).

Nik Nazmi said his ministry and the Foreign Ministry had submitted a diplomatic note to the Indonesian government informing Jakarta of the haze situation in Malaysia and the intention to work together on operations to put out fires at affected areas.

ALSO READ: Nik Nazmi: Poor air quality causing low visibility in West coast, Southern peninsula

Nik Nazmi said the transboundary haze issue cannot be resolved solely through the enactment of laws or by pointing fingers.

“We have to admit that aside from Malaysia, Indonesia too had taken steps to address the issue of burning at plantations and peat fires in the past few years, through a presidential decree and other measures,” he said.

He said there were several impediments to enacting transboundary laws such as coordinates, location, and the details of landowners and companies operating in the affected areas.

“As it involves the sovereignty of a neighbouring country and if they are not willing to cooperate, we will not be able to enforce the law,” he said.

He said while Singapore has a Transboundary Act in place, it has not been successful when it comes to mounting legal charges.

ALSO READ: Indonesia minister says no transboundary haze to Malaysia, fires on decline

“We will adopt the diplomatic approach and also (seek) technical and scientific cooperation under the Asean Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution (AATHP).

“This agreement (has) existed since 2002 and Malaysia was among the first nations to sign,” he said.

Moving forward, Nik Nazmi said Asean member states must work towards improving the AATHP to combat the cross-boundary haze situation affecting the region.

He said under the current Asean agreement there are no provisions for punitive action to be initiated against companies or countries which induce haze.

“This is a constraint we have under the current framework,” he said.

Nik Nazmi was responding to a question from Datuk Idris Ahmad (PN-Bagan Serai) on whether or not existing Acts suffice in terms of enforcement against neighbouring countries.

ALSO READ: Haze hits Johoreans’ respiratory systems

The annual haze which results from forest fires in Indonesia has been a bone of contention in the region for several years.

Every dry season, the region is covered in smog due to smoke from fires in Indonesia. These fires are usually from land clearing for oil palm and other plantations.

Indonesian Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar said on Oct 6 that forest fires in some parts of Sumatra and Kalimantan had declined with no haze detected moving to Malaysia.

Her remarks came after Nik Nazmi said in a recent interview with Reuters that he had asked his Indonesian counterpart to address the haze as air quality in the country was worsening, saying haze should not be a new normal.

Follow us on our official WhatsApp channel for breaking news alerts and key updates!

Next In Nation

Health Ministry turns to drug repurposing to combat dengue
Explain Najib’s pardon to end speculation, urges Selayang MP
I refused to support PM despite lucrative offer, says Bersatu MP
Melaka Mega Ramadan Bazaar looks to attract 2.5 million visitors this year
Witness never mentioned to MACC RM2mil was for Guan Eng, court told
Where are the preparations for Visit Malaysia Year 2026, MP asks Tourism Ministry
MACC chief urges Wan Saiful to report bribe attempt by March 10
Motorist dies in crash on NSE, baby among six others hurt
Backbencher told to retract 'Orang Ulu' remark in Dewan Rakyat
Daim, family's bid to challenge MACC probe rejected

Others Also Read