At the Dewan Rakyat yesterday: Adopting regions in Indonesia to prevent haze

At the Dewan Rakyat yesterday: Adoptingregions in Indonesia to prevent haze

17 November 2006

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Indonesia — Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei and Thailand may “adopt”several regions in Indonesia to set up early warning systems to detect fires.

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Azmi Khalid said themeasure is aimed at tackling the haze which engulfs the region when fires ragein Indonesia.

“Malaysia has been asked to adopt and manage certain areas which myministry has agreed to in principle. I still need to bring this up to theCabinet,” he said at the Parliament lobby.

He was elaborating on his winding up speech of the ministry’s SupplementarySupply Bill 2007, where he touched on measures being taken to overcome the haze.

His ministry was currently identifying the areas to adopt, with emphasis onregions that directly affect Malaysia.

Azmi also said there is a need to set up an early warning system as currentsatellite pictures of detecting hotspots were inaccurate.

“The satellites only detect temperature and this does not necessarily meanthat an area is on fire. We need to come up with a system that allows us to spotthe fire before raising the alarm,” he said.

During the winding up, he said these were the proposals discussed at a meetingwith five Asian Environment ministers in Cebu, Philippines on Nov 7 and 8.

“The ministers will meet every three months to monitor the progress. Thenext meeting is scheduled to be held in Brunei in February.”

He also said the countries, with the exception of Thailand, had agreed inprinciple to contribute US$50,000 (RM190,000) to the Asian Haze Fund.

“The amount is not enough to tackle the haze and we are actually looking toget financial help from international organisations as well,” he said.

He said the Indonesian government estimated that US$60 million is needed totackle the problem, and is looking for other countries to help raise half theamount.

He added that the haze, which had shrouded the region last month, was due tocontinuous burning of peat soil, and was further compounded by forest fires andindiscriminate clearing of land for agricultural purposes by the slash-and- burnmethod.

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