Indonesia will not allow its citizens to be prosecuted under Singapore laws: VP Kalla

Indonesia's vice-president said those who are suspected for causing last year's forest fires are the concern of the country, where the offence happened.
Saifulbahri Ismail Channel NewsAsia 13 Jun 16;

JAKARTA: Indonesian vice-president Jusuf Kalla has said that the government will not allow its citizens who are suspected for causing last year's forest fires to be prosecuted under Singapore laws.

“If there is an offence, Singapore can (prosecute), but the offence happened in Indonesia. That’s our concern,” said Mr Kalla on the sidelines of an event on Sunday (Jun 12), according to online news portal Detiknews.

Last month, Singapore’s National Environment Agency (NEA) said it has obtained a court warrant after the director of one of the Indonesian firms linked to illegal forest fires that caused the haze failed to turn up for an interview when he was in Singapore.

Indonesia objected against this move by lodging a strong protest through its ambassador in Singapore.

In September and October 2015, peatland fires caused the region to be cloaked in haze. Errant pulp and paper companies which started fires were believed to be responsible.

Singapore passed the Transboundary Haze Pollution Act (THPA) in 2014 to go after companies that started fires or let their concessions burn, and contributed to last year’s haze that blanketed Singapore and part of the region.

The Republic's Foreign Affairs Ministry had said the THPA is consistent with international law, which allows a country to take appropriate action to protect itself from external acts which cause harm within the country.

It stated that the Act does not encroach upon the sovereignty of any specific country.

Singapore's Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli had promised that the government will "take what steps we can to enforce the THPA".

- CNA/hs


Singapore cannot enter Indonesia’s legal domain on forest fire issues: Forestry Minister
Indonesia had taken issue with Singapore's attempts to act against companies responsible for the haze-causing forest fires that choked parts of Indonesia and the region.
Saifulbahri Ismail Channel NewsAsia 14 Jun 16;

JAKARTA: Singapore cannot step further to enter Indonesia’s legal domain on the issue of forest fires because the two countries do not have an agreement in the matter, said Indonesia’s Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar.

“The protocol on forest fires in the Transboundary Haze Pollution Act (THPA) is a multilateral agreement, so there was never a bilateral agreement between Indonesia and Singapore, that must be remembered,” Dr Nurbaya said during a breaking of fast session with reporters on Monday (Jun 13).

She was responding to a question about Singapore’s Transboundary Haze Pollution Act (THPA) which it passed in 2014 to go after companies that start fires or let their concessions burn.

Indonesia has taken issue with Singapore's attempts to act against companies responsible for the haze-causing forest fires that choked parts of Indonesia and the region. Jakarta previously objected by lodging a strong protest through its ambassador in Singapore.

Dr Nurbaya said that she has explained to Singapore’s Foreign Minister that the THPA is controversial, and that it is being continuously discussed on the Asean’s sub-regional ministers level between Brunei, Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand.

She added that every country who adhered to the ASEAN agreement needs to respect the sovereignty of each other’s country.

What Singapore has done did not show mutual respect to Indonesia, she said.

“Previously, Singapore's Environment Minister always gives an assessment on policies in Indonesia, for instance, on peatland, it should be like this and like that. That to me, is not an attitude that showed mutual respect,” said Dr Nurbaya.

- CNA/de


Haze: Indonesia won’t allow S’pore to act against its citizens
Today Online 13 Jun 16;

JAKARTA — Indonesia will not allow Singapore to prosecute its citizens suspected of causing forest fires that blanketed the region in haze in 2015, said Indonesian Vice-President Jusuf Kalla, whose latest critical remarks on the matter were quickly echoed by the Indonesian Environment Minister as she lashed out at Singapore’s move to question the director of an Indonesian company over the haze.

Speaking on the sidelines of an event on Sunday, Mr Kalla claimed Singapore might not have the right to take action because the offence happened in Indonesia. “If there is any offence, Singapore can take action but the offence (occurred) in Indonesia, that is the concern,” he was quoted as saying by Detik.com news portal.

He was responding to the Singapore National Environment Agency (NEA) announcement last month that it had obtained a court warrant against the director after he failed to heed the Transboundary Haze Pollution Act notice served to him by the NEA when he was in Singapore. The notice required him to attend an interview with NEA in relation to ongoing investigations, but he failed to turn up.

Following the NEA’s move, Indonesia’s Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar announced that Indonesia would scrap some collaboration projects with Singapore on environment, forestry and haze-related issues as part of a unilateral review by Jakarta on bilateral cooperation.

On Monday (June 13), Ms Nurbaya stepped up the angry rhetoric. “The most important principle is that cooperation is done with respect for each country’s sovereignty,” she said in Jakarta. “What has been done by Singapore, in my opinion, does not show their mutual respect to Indonesia.”

Ms Nurbaya had previously told Singapore to focus on its own role in addressing the haze issue instead of “making so many comments”, while Mr Kalla had said his country’s neighbours never “thanked” Indonesia for 11 months of fresh air and refused to apologise for last year’s haze, which blanketed Singapore and parts of the region.

In response to Mr Kalla’s latest comments, a Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources spokesperson said on Monday: “Transboundary haze pollution is a multilateral issue requiring greater bilateral and regional cooperation among all stakeholders to overcome.” AGENCIES


Indonesia lashes out at Singapore in new haze row
AFP Yahoo News 13 Jun 16;

Jakarta (AFP) - Indonesia's environment minister lashed out Monday at Singapore for failing to show "respect" after the city-state tried to question the director of an Indonesian company over last year's haze outbreak.

It was the latest row between the neighbours over the smog-belching Indonesian forest fires that choked Singapore, Malaysia and other parts of the region with acrid smog for weeks.

The blazes are an annual occurrence during the dry season as land is cleared using slash-and-burn methods but they were the worst for some time in 2015, with Singapore particularly angered at what it said was Jakarta's failure to take action.

Tempers frayed again after Singapore last month tried to call in the director of an Indonesian company suspected of being linked to the haze for questioning when the individual was in the city-state, Singaporean media reported.

Jakarta is furious at what it sees as a violation of its sovereignty, and Environment Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar stepped up the angry rhetoric Monday.

"The most important principle is that cooperation is done with respect for each country's sovereignty," she told reporters in Jakarta.

"What has been done by Singapore, in my opinion, does not show their mutual respect to Indonesia."

Bakar said she was seeking a review of "of all issues of cooperation with Singapore concerning the environment and forestry".

She also pointed out that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, a 10-member regional bloc that includes Indonesia and Singapore, had an agreement to deal with forest fires that was based on cooperation.

Her comments came after Indonesia's Vice President Jusuf Kalla insisted that Singapore cannot take legal action against Indonesian citizens.

The director of the firm called in by Singaporean authorities reportedly did not turn up for the interview despite being served with a legal notice and has since left the city-state. The individual or the firm were not named in the reports.

Singapore is seeking to take legal action under a 2014 law that allows the city-state to levy heavy fines on local or foreign companies that contribute to unhealthy levels of haze pollution in the city-state.

Singapore has also given notices to six Indonesian-based firms, asking them to explain what they are doing to put out fires on their land.


S'pore can't take legal action against Indonesians over haze: Jakarta
Arlina Arshad, Straits Times AsiaOne 14 Jun 16;

Indonesia will not allow one of its citizens accused of causing forest fires last year to be "processed" under the laws of Singapore, said its Vice-President Jusuf Kalla.

"If there is an offence, Singapore can take action, but (the offence) occurred in Indonesia, that is the concern," he said on Sunday.

Mr Kalla was referring to Singapore's action against companies responsible for causing the forest fires in Indonesia that led to last year's transboundary haze crisis.

Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar yesterday echoed his sentiments in her response to questions from reporters after a climate change event in Jakarta.

She said the ASEAN agreement on transboundary haze pollution is a multilateral one, and not a bilateral pact between Singapore and Indonesia.

Thus, "Singapore cannot step further into Indonesia's legal domain", added Ms Siti.

She said Singapore's Transboundary Haze Pollution Act (THPA) remains a "controversial" law that is still being debated among ASEAN officials from Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. That is why she feels that Singapore's action under the law against errant firms in her country is not a show of "mutual respect" to Indonesia.

"The basic principle of co-operation is that countries should respect each other's sovereignty," she said.

She added that Indonesia is not "keeping still" and has imposed sanctions on firms responsible for fires that led to the haze.

These latest comments come after Singapore's National Environment Agency said last month that it had obtained a court warrant against an Indonesian company director in line with the THPA.

This is after the director had failed to turn up for an interview despite being served a legal notice to explain his firm's measures to tackle fires on its concession land.

Ms Siti had said on May 14 that certain bilateral collaborations with Singapore will be terminated and others subjected to a review.

Singapore's Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources, however, said last week that it has renewed its haze assistance package to Indonesia, which it has been offering since 2005.

Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli has maintained that Singapore's action has the support of the international community. "We are not doing anything criminal nor wrong. We are just asking for the companies and the directors to own up and be accountable for what they've done."

Indonesia has yet to indicate its acceptance of Singapore's help, but Mr Kalla said his country will accept help if it is really needed and reminded its neighbours that tackling the forest fires is "not as easy as what our friends in ASEAN think".

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