APP guilty of a bald-faced lie, says Indonesian peatland authority

APP guilty of a bald-faced lie, says Indonesian peatland authority

11 June 2016

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Indonesia —  Indonesia’s Peatland Restoration Agency (BRG) has once again hit out at Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), whose products were pulled off supermarket shelves in Singapore last year over alleged links to firms responsible for the forest fires causing the transboundary haze, noting that the company had lied to the public by releasing a false chronology of events over its submission of peatland mapping data to the authorities.

“We have undeniable evidence that the chronology provided by APP in its public statement constitutes a public lie,” said BRG chief Nazir Foead to Jakarta-based environment news portal on Wednesday, referring to a public statement issued by the company on the same day declaring that it has submitted relevant mapping data to the Environment and Forestry Ministry after being rapped by BRG for being uncooperative.

APP’s version of the chronology, he added, was inconsistent with the evidence-based chronology shown to him by Mr Karliansyah (who goes by one name), the director-general for Environmental Pollution and Damage Control at the ministry.

“This clearly demonstrates that APP told a bald-faced lie in its public statement,” he said.

He further denounced the APP statement as showing a lack of respect towards certain government agencies. He revealed that the APP had suggested it may be better to submit the data only to the ministry, so that any data related to its concessions could be delivered through just one gateway. This is not in line with a presidential regulation stating that BRG is the coordination agency for all peat restoration activities.

“APP has developed a chronology that serves its own interests. They have chosen to conceal the actual chronology. It’s not only the public that they’ve lied to in their public statement, but also government agencies,” said Mr Foead.

But BRG did not specify how APP’s version of the chronology of events had deviated from government records.

When asked by TODAY for the reasons regarding the inconsistency of events, APP (Singapore) vice-president for corporate affairs Jose Raymond would only say yesterday that: “APP will support all initiatives to protect forests and peatlands in Indonesia.”

Transboundary haze caused by widespread fires in Indonesia blanketed the region from September to November last year and affected tens of millions of people.

Last year, Singapore’s National Environment Agency sent notices to six companies directing them to put out fires allegedly contributing to the haze. APP was not served a notice, but was asked to provide further information on what it is doing to put out fires on its land concessions.

Major retailers in Singapore removed APP paper products from their shelves last year, after the Singapore Environment Council and the Consumers Association of Singapore asked retailers to declare they have not procured or used wood, paper and/or pulp materials from the companies accused of causing fires in Indonesia.

According to a report by the Jakarta Post on Wednesday, APP sustainability and stakeholder management senior manager Trisia Megawati said the company had mapped its concession using light detection and ranging (Lidar) technology, and submitted the map to the ministry on May 11.

After that, the company had presented the map in front of the ministry’s Environmental Pollution and Damage Control director-general, the Geospatial Information Agency (BIG) and the BRG.

However, Ms Megawati refused to comment on why the company refused to submit its map to BRG and instead submitted it to the ministry.

In APP’s statement released on Wednesday, it claimed to be the only company operating in Indonesia that has undertaken comprehensive mapping of peatlands using Lidar.

“The Lidar data analysis was finalised in April 2016. The results have had a significant impact in promoting understanding of how to manage peatlands more responsibly,” said APP’s statement.

Following the data submission, Mr Karliansyah, the director-general, invited APP to a meeting on May 23 to present the technical details of the Lidar peatland maps.

Representatives from BIG and BRG were also invited to participate in the meeting. During the meeting, it was agreed BRG should coordinate with the director-general in accessing the data submitted by APP, added the company’s statement.

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