2015 haze: NEA still investigating Asia Pulp and Paper suppliers

Channel NewsAsia 2 Mar 17;

SINGAPORE: The National Environment Agency (NEA) is still investigating four Indonesian suppliers of Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), which was allegedly linked to the forest fires that caused severe haze in Singapore in 2015.

In an update to the media on Thursday (Mar 2), NEA said the four companies - PT Bumi Andalas Permai, PT Bumi Mekar Hijau, PT Sebangun Bumi Andalas Woods Industries and PT Rimba Hutani Mas - have not responded to its letters despite repeated reminders.

Information provided by APP "has been limited", NEA added.

A director from one of the companies listed was served with a notice to be interviewed by NEA while he was in Singapore, but failed to turn up for the interview, the agency said previously.

"In accordance with the Transboundary Haze Pollution Act's legal provisions, NEA has obtained a court warrant to secure his attendance when he next enters Singapore. This means that if the director enters Singapore, he may be detained by NEA for investigations," it said.

The agency added that it will also seek to interview the directors of the other companies if they entered Singapore.

"NEA has also written to Asia Pulp and Paper pursuant to Section 10 of the Transboundary Haze Pollution Act to request information on the four suppliers," the update said. "These four cases remain open and NEA will continue its investigations."

TWO CASES CLOSED FOLLOWING INVESTIGATIONS

Another two companies, PT Bumi Sriwijaya Sentosa and PT Wachyuni Mandira, interviewed by NEA said they had no links to the affected areas before the 2015 forest fires. After further investigations, NEA accepted their explanations and closed the two cases, it said.

Minister for Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli said last year during the Committee of Supply debate that NEA sent notices to six Indonesia-based companies following the haze in 2015. Even if the errant company's officers are foreigners, they have to comply with Singapore's laws if they enter the country, he said.

- CNA/dl


NEA clears 2 firms, warrant issued for director in haze probe
Today Online 2 Mar 17;

SINGAPORE — The National Environment Agency (NEA) has cleared two of six companies investigated for their role in causing the transboundary haze in 2015.

A court warrant, however, has been issued to detain a director of one of the remaining four firms being investigated the next time he enters Singapore.

In an update on its investigations into the fires which caused the 2015 haze under the Transboundary Haze Pollution Act (THPA), the NEA said it has closed its case against PT Bumi Sriwijaya Sentosa and PT Wachyuni Mandira after investigating and accepting their explanations that they were no longer associated with the affected concession lands before the fires started in 2015.

The cases against the remaining four Indonesia companies — PT Bumi Andalas Permai, PT Bumi Mekar Hijau, PT Sebangun Bumi Andalas Woods Industries and PT Rimba Hutani Mas — remain open as they have not responded to the NEA’s letters despite repeated reminders.

The NEA has also obtained a court warrant to detain an unnamed director of one of the four companies for investigations the next time he enters the Republic.

This director had been served with a THPA notice to be interviewed by the agency when he was in Singapore, but he failed to turn up. The NEA said it will continue to seek to interview other directors of these companies if they enter the country.

As these four companies are suppliers to Asia Pulp & Paper (APP), the NEA added that under the THPA, it had written to APP to ask for information about the four suppliers.

“The information provided by APP to date has been limited and more information is still being sought from them for NEA’s investigations into these four companies,” said the
agency.

Under the THPA, entities which cause or contribute to unhealthy levels of haze in Singapore could be fined up to S$2 million.


Haze-linked firm 'opaque with information'
Audrey Tan, The Straits Times AsiaOne 3 Mar 17;

Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), one of the Indonesian companies blamed for the record-breaking haze that affected Singapore in 2015, has not provided enough information to the Singapore authorities investigating the fires.

APP has been opaque with information, despite the National Environment Agency's 17-month investigation under the Transboundary Haze Pollution Act into the firms believed to be responsible for the haze, said a spokesman yesterday.

In September 2015, at the height of the worst haze episode to plague Singapore, the NEA served APP a legal notice under Section 10 of the Act, requesting information on four of its suppliers, as fires had been detected on their lands. APP has an office in Singapore.

"The information provided by APP to date has been limited and more information is still being sought from them for NEA's investigations into these four companies," said an NEA spokesman.

The Transboundary Haze Pollution Act, passed in Parliament in August 2014, targets those responsible for causing or condoning fires if burning results in unhealthy levels of haze here.

It was wielded for the first time in 2015, with the NEA serving legal notices to a total of six Indonesian companies under Section 9 of the Act, asking them to take immediate measures to stop the fires that caused the haze.

Number of Indonesian companies the NEA served legal notices to in 2015 under Section 9 of the Transboundary Haze Pollution Act, asking them to take immediate measures to stop the fires that caused the haze.

The four APP suppliers - Bumi Andalas Permai, Bumi Mekar Hijau, Sebangun Bumi Andalas Woods Industries and Rimba Hutani Mas - were among the six.

The other two were Bumi Sriwijaya Sentosa and Wachyuni Mandira. NEA said yesterday that both companies have responded to the notices, saying they were no longer associated with the affected lands before the fires occurred in 2015.

"Following NEA's further investigation based on the information provided, NEA accepted these explanations and closed these two cases," said the spokesman.

He declined to provide details of how the claims of both companies were verified.

He added that the four APP suppliers, however, have not responded to NEA's letters despite repeated reminders.

The letters were sent under Section 9 of the Act, and had requested that the companies take immediate measures to stop the fires that caused the haze.

NEA said it will seek to interview the directors of these companies if they enter Singapore.

One of them had already been served with a notice to be interviewed by NEA when he was in Singapore. However, he failed to turn up for the interview.

The NEA has since obtained a court warrant, which means that if the director enters Singapore, he may be detained by NEA for investigations.

The move to issue the court warrant was first announced last May, prompting Indonesian Foreign Ministry official Arrmanatha Nasir to say then that his government was not in favour of the law.

APP declined to comment on NEA's charge that it did not provide enough information.

Those found guilty under the Act can be fined up to $100,000 a day for causing unhealthy haze, defined as a 24-hour Pollutant Standards Index value of 101 or greater for 24 hours or more. The fine is capped at a total of $2 million.

Ms Zhang Wen of Singapore-based volunteer group People's Movement to Stop Haze said she hopes both NEA and APP can provide more clarity. "We understand that the investigation is ongoing, but if investigation findings are made accessible, the public would have a clearer picture of whether the company is accountable for the haze," she said.

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