ASEAN– Jakarta: The Republic has proposed to ASEAN member states that information be shared on a government-to-government basis as part of efforts to tackle transboundary haze in the region.
Speaking at the end of a one-day ASEAN meeting on transboundary haze in Jakarta on Tuesday (Jul 28), Environment Minister Dr Vivian Balakrishan said this information can help confirm the presence and severity of a fire after satellite pictures indicate a hotspot.
Dr Balakrishnan said he hopes that through this process of “ground truthing”, the Indonesian government will then share the identity of the company responsible for that hotspot. So if we can establish this system in which we can directly exchange information, facilitate investigation, produce evidence which can be offered in the court of law, we will increase considerably the accountability for the companies that started the fires, he said.
Dr Balakrishnan made this proposal to Indonesia at the meeting after seeing “very slow progress” on the ASEAN Haze Monitoring System (AHMS).
ASEAN member states – namely Indonesia and Malaysia – have been reluctant to share land concession maps citing security concerns. The concession maps are a key component required by the system.
Indonesia has said it will study the proposal and Dr Balakrishnan said he is convinced that the current Indonesian government is serious on overcoming transboundary haze in the region.
During the meeting, Thailand offered to host a workshop to draft a roadmap on ASEAN cooperation towards haze pollution control next year. The Thai government has said it hopes to promote the sharing of experiences and lessons learned to achieve the goal of haze-free ASEAN by 2020.