Friday, 6 March 2015

Indonesia Vice-President Kalla slams neighbouring countries over haze complaints

“For 11 months, they enjoyed nice air from Indonesia and they never thanked us. They have suffered because of the haze for one month and they get upset," Mr Jusuf Kalla was quoted as saying in the Jakarta Globe.
Channel NewsAsia, 4 Mar 2015

JAKARTA: Mr Jusuf Kalla, Vice-President of Indonesia, on Tuesday (Mar 3) took to task neighbouring countries' complaints about the haze.

He also said foreign demand and foreign technology was to blame for the fires. “Somebody once told me that Indonesia must restore its tropical forests, and I told him: ‘Excuse me? What did you say? Do you know who damaged our forests?’”

In response, Singapore's Member of Parliament Lee Bee Wah said she was "appalled" by Mr Kalla's remarks.

"I hope as a leader he would at least have concern for his own countrymen, the Indonesians living in the affected areas, who are subjected to the harmful particles carried by the burning forest," she said in a Facebook post on Wednesday.

The haze which spreads over Singapore and Malaysian skies is caused by forest fires in Sumatra and Kalimantan. The number of "hotspots" in the region grew almost 58 per cent in the past year, from 18,129 in 2013 to 28,580 in 2014. Last year, there were 12 days in which the Pollutants Standard Index went into the "unhealthy" territory in Singapore.

In response, Singapore's Ministry of Environment and Water Resources (MEWR) enacted the Transboundary Haze Pollution Act last August, allowing regulators to prosecute those in neighbouring countries responsible for causing severe air pollution. Indonesia also ratified the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution last September, 12 years after it was established in 2002.

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