Haze eases in Malaysia’s capital

Haze Watch: Malaysian firms deny link with open burning

17 August 2005

publishedby www.nst.com.my

Five Malaysian companies today denied allegations by Indonesian forestry authorities that they were responsible for open burning.

Chief executive officers of the five companies met Plantation Enterprises and Commodities Minister Datuk Peter Chin at his ministry today to “tell their side of the story”.

They denied that any of their plantations practised slash and burn techniques.

Chin said he had details and particulars of five Malaysian companies which had been accused by the Indonesian authorities of being responsible for open burning.

“The five companies are PT Tunggal Mitra Plantation, PT Langgam Inti Hibrida, PT Reksa Nusa Sejati, PT Mustika Agro Lestari and PT Multi Gambut Industri.

“As for the other three companies named by the Indonesian authorities, we have discovered that they are not Malaysian companies.”

(The three are PT Udaya Loh Jinawe, PT Agri Plantation and PT Jatim Jaya Perkasa.)

He said the ministry had no information on the three companies.

Confirming that the five companies were owned by Malaysian companies listed in Bursa Malaysia, he, however, declined to name the parent companies.

He was speaking to reporters after meeting representatives of 18 companies operating in Indonesia.

He said some of them brought along photographic evidence that the burning activities were carried out near the boundary of their plantations by Indonesian smallholders.

Yesterday it was reported that Indonesia would prosecute at least 10 plantation companies, eight of them believed to be owned by Malaysian companies, for allegedly conducting illegal land-clearing activities.

Chin said the CEOs and senior executives of the five companies had denied their subsidiaries’ involvement in open burning and added: “I am happy with their explanations and I trust them. Their explanations are reasonable.

“I was told that (Indonesian) smallholders involved in shifting cultivation near the boundary of their estates are those who set the fires. I was shown a few photographs showing the activities of these people,” he said.

Chin said it was illogical for the companies or their workers to be involved as the palm trees hadmatured.


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