Singapore — Asean environment ministers will meet in Brunei tomorrow andThursday to discuss the transboundary haze problem which has become an annualoccurrence in the region.
The meeting comes just months ahead of the phenomenon which usually occursaround the third quarter of the year.
The haze was particularly bad last year, prompting the five affected nations –Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei and Thailand — to hold a sub-regionalmeeting to find a solution to the problem, caused mainly by forest and landfires in Indonesia’s Sumatra and Kalimantan.
Singapore’s Water Resources and Environment Ministry said in a statement todaythat Minister Dr Yaacob Ibrahim would attend the Brunei meeting.
There will be two meetings in the sultanate, namely, the Second Meeting of theSub-Regional Ministerial Steering Committee on Transboundary Haze Pollution (MSC)and the 12th Asean Ministerial Meeting on Haze.
“Minister Yaacob will be accompanied by senior officials from the Ministryof Environment and Water Resources and the National Environment Agency,”the ministry said in a statement.
At the first MSC meeting held in Cebu City, the Philippines, last November, theministers noted that smoke haze had affected Asean countries, especially Brunei,Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.
They also noted that the problem had profound socio-economic implications.
The region suffered the worst haze crisis in 1997-1998, with losses estimated atUS$9 billion.
The crisis prompted the 10-member Asean to sign an agreement on transboundaryhaze in 2002 which recognises the responsibility of states for pollution, andestablishes an Asean Centre to promote joint actions and closer cooperation infire-fighting and prevention.