Singapore renews haze assistance package to Indonesia

Singapore remains committed to working with the Indonesian government and other like-minded partners to find more permanent solutions to this regional problem, says the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources.
Channel NewsAsia 7 Jun 16;

SINGAPORE: The Government of Singapore has renewed its haze assistance package to Indonesia, which it has been offering since 2005 to support the country's fire mitigation efforts. The announcement comes, despite an Indonesian minister saying last month that Jakarta is reviewing cooperation with Singapore in environment and forestry matters.

"This is part of the Singapore Government’s broader commitment to assist the Indonesian Government in its efforts to deal with the land and forest fires in the run-up to the traditional dry season from June to October," said the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR) in a news release on Tuesday (Jun 7).

The haze assistance package offered by Singapore this year includes:

- Up to two C-130 aircraft to ferry a fire-fighting assistance team from the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF)

- A team from SCDF to provide fire-fighting assessment and planning assistance to its Indonesian counterparts

- One C-130 aircraft for cloud seeding operations

- High-resolution satellite pictures of fires and the coordinates of the fire sites

MEWR noted that transboundary haze from land and forest fires has been a perennial problem in the southern ASEAN region for decades, with last year's haze episode being one of the worst and most prolonged in history, impacting health and livelihoods of people in Indonesia and beyond.

"The Singapore Government remains committed to working with the Indonesian Government and other like-minded partners to find more permanent solutions to this regional problem," MEWR said.

Singapore authorities have been trying to get to the root of the problem. Last month, the National Environment Agency in Singapore issued a court warrant in a bid to question the director of an Indonesian firm linked to illegal forest fires that caused the haze last year. Indonesian officials told the media they protested the move, although Singapore's Foreign Affairs Ministry said no such protest was received at its embassy in Jakarta.

- CNA/ly


S’pore renews haze assistance offer to Indonesia
Today Online 7 Jun 16;

SINGAPORE — Ahead of the annual dry season in Indonesia, Singapore is renewing its offer to help combat forest fires with an assistance package that includes C-130 planes, firefighters and high-resolution satellite imagery.

“Every year since 2005, Singapore has offered assistance packages to support Indonesia in its fire mitigation efforts,” the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources said in a statement on Tuesday. “This is part of the Singapore Government’s broader commitment to assist the Indonesian Government in its efforts to deal with the land and forest fires in the run-up to the traditional dry season from June to October.”

The assistance package offered by Singapore this year include:

* Up to two C-130 aircraft to ferry a fire-fighting assistance team from Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF);

* A team from SCDF to provide fire-fighting assessment and planning assistance;

* One C-130 aircraft for cloud seeding operations; and

* High-resolution satellite pictures of fires and the coordinates of the fire sites.

“Illegal and unsustainable land clearing methods, in particular ‘slash and burn’ agricultural practices by irresponsible companies, have been identified as the root cause of fires that result in transboundary haze pollution,” noted the statement. “The Singapore Government remains committed to working with the Indonesian Government and other like-minded partners to find more permanent solutions to this regional problem."

Last month however, media reports said Indonesia would scrap some ongoing and upcoming collaboration projects with Singapore on environment, forestry and haze-related issues as part of a unilateral review on bilateral cooperation that Jakarta was conducting.

Indonesia’s Minister of the Environment and Forestry, Ms Siti Nurbaya, revealed this in an interview with a Jakarta-based environment news portal in mid-May.

She said she would be leading the review herself and existing bilateral collaborations could be broken off following the “substance-based review process.” “Planned bilateral collaborations between Singapore and my ministry, such as those involving haze and forest fire-related issues, are no exception,” she was quoted as saying by the portal foresthints.news.

In an April interview, also with foresthints.news, Ms Siti Nurbaya told Singapore to focus on its own role in addressing the issue instead of “making so many comments”. She said then that the Indonesian government has taken “substantial steps” to prevent land and forest fires, and the ensuing haze that envelopes the region every year, based on decisions made by the Indonesian government, and not because of pressure from other countries, including Singapore.

Then, she was responding to Singapore’s Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli’s statement at a sustainability forum that agro-forestry companies should take full responsibility for fire prevention and mitigation in their concessions, and that there must not be a repeat of last year’s forest fires which caused the haze.

Singapore has issued notices to six Indonesia-based companies that started fires or let their concessions burn, and contributed to last year’s haze that blanketed Singapore and parts of the region. Singapore’s National Environment Agency (NEA) has also obtained a court warrant against the director of one of the Indonesian firms linked to illegal forest fires that caused a region-wide haze for several months last year.


Singapore to continue assisting Indonesia to fight haze this year
AsiaOne 8 Jun 16;

With the dry season approaching in South-east Asia, Singapore has announced it will continue to send a haze assistance package to Indonesia to combat the country's forest fires.

The package this year is similar to last year's, comprising up to two C-130 aircraft to ferry a fire-fighting assistance team from Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), who will be providing fire-fighting assessment and planning assistance to their Indonesian counterparts; another C-130 aircraft for cloud seeding operations; and high-resolution satellite pictures of fires and the coordinates of the fire sites.

Transboundary haze from land and forest fires has been a perennial problem in the region for decades.

Illegal and unsustainable land clearing methods, in particular "slash and burn" agricultural practices by irresponsible companies, have been identified as the root cause of fires that result in transboundary haze pollution, the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR) said in a statement today (June 7).

Last year's haze episode was one of the worst and the most prolonged in history, and had a major impact on the health and livelihoods of the people in Indonesia and many countries in the region including Singapore.

"The Singapore Government remains committed to working with the Indonesian Government and other like-minded partners to find more permanent solutions to this regional problem," the MEWR said.

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