Putrajaya, Malaysia — Malaysia and Indonesia will meet in May to talk aboutthe practice of open burning in Indonesiar that has contributed to the annualoccurrence of haze.
Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Peter Chin Fah Kui saidthe meeting, which would be held in Jakarta this time, would also focus onefforts to stem illegal logging and the importation of illegal logs fromIndonesia.
“We are very mindful of the fact that drought has been forecast forMalaysia over the next few months and this can lead to the possibility oftrans-boundary haze from the open burning in plantations in Indonesia.
“We have a joint committee between Indonesia and Malaysia on commoditiesthat meets twice a year, the next of which will be in May.
“We hope that our exchanges will help reduce the instances of openburning,” he told reporters after launching a seminar on the nationalpolicy on timber industry at Marriott Hotel here on Thursday.
At the height of the haze last year, a non-governmental organisation hadclaimed that a few of the 34 Malaysian companies currently operating oil palmestates in southern Kalimantan and Sumatra were involved in the open burning.
The Indonesian authorities were supposed to have investigated the claims andsubmitted the list of Malaysian companies involved to the Malaysian government.
However, Chin said he had never received any official report, adding that”presumably when the haze is gone, so is the interest in the culprits”.
On the allegation that Malaysian companies were behind the illegal loggingactivities in Indonesia, Chin said the Government was keen to ensure that alltimber used in the local furniture industry was legally sourced.
“But because of our porous border, we must make more effort at jointenforcement,” he said.
Earlier, Chin said it was important for the local furniture industry to lookinto a policy of sustaining itself seeing that it would run into a shortage ofresource without proper planning.
“As it is, the industry is facing a disjointed supply of rubber wood asmost of the supply is in the northern region of the Peninsula Malaysia whilemost of the furniture makers are concentrated in Johor.
“We may also face shortage in certain species of wood like meranti,which is heavily commercialised.
“The industry must look at what it can do to maintain their currentlevel of production and to ensure the efficient use of the resource,” hesaid, adding that one solution was for furniture makers to base theirmanufacturing in Sabah and Sarawak, which still have ample logging resources.
From January to November last year, the export earnings of the timberindustry reached RM21.2bil.