Indonesia calls on neighbours to help tackle forest fires

Saifulbahri Ismail Channel NewsAsia 23 Jul 16;

JAKARTA: Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla on Friday (Jul 22) reiterated his call to neighbouring countries to help Indonesia tackle forest fires.

"If they want, let’s work together for common interest. In the past, Singapore, and Malaysia has helped - that’s good. Don’t just blame (Indonesia). It’s not that we like (the situation), no," said Mr Kalla during his visit to Siak regency, Riau province, on Friday as reported by online news portal

Mr Kalla was in Riau, one of the provinces badly affected by the forest fires last year, to commemorate World Environment Day. The massive forest fires devastated more than two million hectares of land causing toxic haze to blanket parts of Indonesia and the region.

This year, fewer hot spots have been detected, and the Indonesian government attributed this partly to better efforts in anticipation what caused the fires, and containing them early.

“Do we really like the haze? No, right? But it was because of natural occurrences, and acts of people. What is important is that we are working hard. We are trying to restore the peatlands, we are providing all the necessary equipment,” said Mr Kalla.

He pointed out that helicopters are on stand-by at the airports, and the government is ready to deploy the military, police and local communities to fight the fires.

“As I’ve always said, the neighbouring countries must be fair. If the situation is good, they get good air, but if the situation is bad, we go through the bad times together. The first to get it is the people in Riau, Jambi. They suffered more than over there (the region),” said Mr Kalla.

The outspoken vice president has denounced neighbouring countries several times in the past for complaining about the haze caused by forest fires in Indonesia.

However, Indonesia’s efforts in tackling forest fires came into question when 15 out of 18 companies suspected of being responsible for the forest fires last year got off the hook with the law.

On Thursday, reported that the district police in Riau will be stopping investigations on the 15 companies due to the lack of evidence.

“It does not fulfil the elements of intent nor negligence, so we decide to stop investigating the cases,” said Senior Commissioner Rivai Sinambela, Director for Special Criminal Investigation, Riau police district.

Commissioner Rival said that the fires happened on land which have conflicting ownership with the community, and not on areas belonging to the companies.

In 2015, police began investigations on 18 companies suspected of causing forest fires, but only three went to the courts. The three companies PT Langgam Inti Hibrindo, PT Palm Lestari Makmur and PT Wahana Subur Sawit were eventually acquitted.

- CNA/ec

No comments:

Post a Comment