Indonesia Defends Businessman on Haze, Singapore Finds Statement “Puzzling”

Eko Prasetyo Jakarta Globe 13 May 16;

Jakarta. The Singaporean Foreign Ministry has released a statement denying Indonesia has protested a warrant against the director an Indonesian firm linked to illegal forest fires in last year’s haze.

Arrmanatha Nasir, spokesman for the Indonesian Foreign Ministry, said the government has issued a protest against Singapore's National Environment Agency (NEA) through the Indonesian embassy in Singapore.

“We urge for Singapore’s regulations to not affect good trade and cooperation ties, especially between our businesses," Arrmanatha said in a press briefing on Thursday (12/05).

In a response on Friday, Singaporean Foreign Ministry spokesperson said Arrmanatha’s remarks were "puzzling," and the Singaporean government is yet to receive any representation from the Indonesian Embassy.

Earlier on Wednesday, NEA had obtained a court warrant against the Indonesian director, who failed to heed an interview notice served to him when he was in Singapore.

“The Transboundary Haze Pollution Act [THPA]'s purpose is to prosecute and deter entities that are responsible for transboundary haze pollution in Singapore, whether Singaporean or foreign … We are therefore puzzled as to why Indonesia does not welcome these efforts,” said the statement received by the Jakarta Globe.

Singapore has repeatedly urged the Indonesian government to share information on companies suspected of illegal burning in Indonesia.

Indonesian officials have been informed of at least six companies being served with THPA notices, although no replies have been received.

However, the summoned director and the list of companies have not been disclosed to public.

Haze coming from fires across Sumatra and Kalimantan in Sept. and Oct. last year reached Singapore and Malaysia, causing health issues and inconvenience to all three countries. Several pulp and paper companies are believed to be responsible for starting the fires.

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