Asean Accord on Haze Disadvantageous to Indonesia

Asean Accord on Haze Disadvantageous toIndonesia

20 March 2007

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Jakarta, Indonesia — ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution (AA-THP)has a tendency toinflict loss on Indonesia because it fails to coverenvironmental issue as a whole, Indonesian Forum for Environment (Walhi)spokesman, Rully Syumanda, said here on Tuesday.

“The AA-THP can be said to be unfair for Indonesian interest because ittouches on haze problem only,” Rully Syamanda said, adding that in theagreement, other environmental issue such pollution at Malacca Strait and thedisposal of poisonous waste at Indonesian territory by several neighboringcountries should have also been discussed. He noted that an impartial andcomprehensive view should be applied in all regulation or agreement which had arelation with environmental issue.

Therefore, Ruli said it was natural for Indonesian government to take a cautiousstance in ratifying the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Pollution. A bill onthe AA-THP is currently being drafted by the House of Representatives. Earlier,Forestry Minister MS Kaban said last Monday the ratification of the AA-THPshould be linked with illegal logging, poaching, illegal sand mining and wasteexports to Indonesia.

The minister said that of the 32 articles in the AA-THP about 27 were mandatoryin nature meaning that if it was ratified the government would be obliged tocarry them out.  Kaban said neighboring countries tended to be unfair withregard to the agreement.  “They tend to criticize us when there ishaze but with regard to other matters such as timber theft, poaching and illegalsand imports, they just keep quiet,” the minister added.

In the meantime, Agriculture Minister Anton Apriantono said on Tuesday hisministry had allocated a budget of Rp60 billion to help finance efforts toovercome forest and land fires in 2007. Meanwhile, an animal conservationistsaid over the weekend that the AA-THP would have a positive impact on animalconservation as it could help reduce forest fires and threats to animal habitats.

“The AA-THP stipulates that haze must be reduced which means that forestfires which endanger not only the lives of humans but also of orangutans mustalso be reduced,” Kuswandono, chief of the Borneo Orangutan SalvationFoundation’s communications bureau, said here on Friday. He said thefoundation supported all efforts aimed at conserving animals and land as itsprograms had the same objectives.

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