Malaysia ‘ready’ to help Indonesia combat forest fires – minister

Source: Asian Correspondent

MALAYSIA’s Resources and Environment Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar has declared the country’s willingness to help neighbouring Indonesia to extinguish forest fires.

Last week, Indonesia’s disaster mitigation agency (BNPB) warned of increased risk of major fires as the peak of the dry season looms. Fires have already been reported in the province of Aceh on the northern tip of Sumatra, close to Peninsular Malaysia.

Speaking at a public event on Sunday, Wan said, “I have discussed it with Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim, who oversees the Fire Department and the Special Malaysia Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team (SMART).”

“He has given the assurance they are ready at any time,” Wan Junaidi said as quoted by Malaysia’s state news agency Bernama. Read more

Asean adopts roadmap to become haze-free by 2020

Source: The Star Online

Reuter photo published on The NST Online

KUALA LUMPUR: A roadmap on regional cooperation to tackle the persistant haze problem has been adopted by Asean in its effort to achieve a transboundary haze-free region in less than four years.

The roadmap, aptly called Asean Cooperation towards Trans­boundary Haze Pollution Control with Means of Implementation, serves as a framework towards a haze-free region by 2020.

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said all ministers have reaffirmed their commitment to prevent and monitor transboundary haze pollution from land and forest fires through concerted national efforts and regional cooperation.

Yesterday, Asean ministers and officials convened at the 12th meeting of the conference here.

Dr Wan Junaidi said he was optimistic that, with Indonesia’s commitment, the haze situation this year would be less severe.

“Indonesia has given its assurance. A total of 3,000 military and police personnel have been put on watch to monitor the haze situation,” he added.

The senior adviser on energy to Indonesia’s Minister of Environ­ment and Forestry, Arief Yuwono, said President Joko Widodo issued a directive to seriously combat and prevent land and forest fires. Read more

Mampukah AEC bawa kemakmuran masyarakat serantau, atau berasaskan keuntungan?

Sumber: The Malaysian Insider

Komuniti Ekonomi Asean pada dasarnya mahu menjadikan rantau ini sebagai satu blok ekonomi tanpa sempadan sama seperti Kesatuan Eropah tetapi tanpa mata wang sendiri dengan frasa rasminya ialah "Satu Visi, Satu Identiti, Satu Komuniti".

Komuniti Ekonomi Asean pada dasarnya mahu menjadikan rantau ini sebagai satu blok ekonomi tanpa sempadan sama seperti Kesatuan Eropah tetapi tanpa mata wang sendiri dengan frasa rasminya ialah “Satu Visi, Satu Identiti, Satu Komuniti”.

Jerebu yang terus menerus melanda rantau Asean adalah simbol dan ujian sama ada Komuniti Ekonomi Asean (AEC) mampu melunaskan janji membawa kemakmuran kepada 625 juta rakyatnya.

Contoh jerebu digunakan Jerald Joseph, seorang pemimpin masyarakat sivil Malaysia, ketika bercakap tentang bagaimana perasaan Forum Rakyat Asean (APF) tentang AEC.

Joseph merupakan penganjur bersama sidang kemuncak APF 2015 di Malaysia April lalu, yang dihadiri pertubuhan masyarakat sivil terbesar Asean.

Ia merupakan simbol kerana jerebu adalah produk sampingan daripada apa AEC mahu lakukan tetapi pada skala lebih besar – untuk memberikan kebebasan perniagaan Asean dan kemudahan membuka kedai di mana-mana 10 negara anggota bagi mengambil kesempatan daripada buruh murah dan sumber yang belum diterokai. Read more

ASEAN should aim to be haze free by 2018: Wan Junaidi

Source: The NST Online

Reuter photo published on The NST Online

KUCHING: Malaysia hopes ASEAN should aim to be a haze free region by 2018, said Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said here today.

He said he had attended the 11th Conference of Parties (COP) to the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution held in Hanoi, Vietnam on Thursday and Friday where the haze problem was the main issue.

“Although this is not an official declaration yet Malaysia expresses the hope that the ASEAN region should aim to be haze free by then,” he told the media after launching the state annual Environmental Week celebration here today.

Wan Junaidi said ASEAN countries like Myanmar, Cambodia and Northern Thailand also suffered from the haze because of their forest fires. Read more

30 years later, is there an end in sight to smoke problem?

Source: The Malaysian Insider

An Indonesian soldier trying to put out a peatland fire in Ogan Ilir, Sumatra, in September. President Joko Widodo has instructed his ministers to revoke licences of companies found to have used fire to clear land, which is blamed for the smoke blanketing much of Southeast Asia. – Reuters pic, October 28, 2015.

For decades, smoke from Indonesia blows into Malaysia towards year-end, erasing the country’s iconic skylines and driving people indoors to wait out what has now become known as the “haze season”.

A headline from nearly 20 years ago said “Asean ministers to discuss smog problem” – and in 2015, they are still discussing it.

After talking for so long and extensively, what have Malaysia and Indonesia achieved?

“Sadly, nothing much,” said Dr Helena Varkkey, a senior lecturer at Universiti Malaya’s Department of International and Strategic Studies, in an email interview. Read more

Malaysia’s proposed haze law may let Indonesia to shirk own duty, lawyers say

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Motorists pass on a highway shrouded by haze in Malaysia. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 23 ― Imposing a specific law here to punish companies responsible for haze-causing fires in Indonesia could backfire as it might detract from efforts to hold Jakarta accountable for the annual issue, lawyers have said.

While legal practitioners have no issue with introducing such a law, they warned that it would likely do little to push Indonesia to enforce its own laws and policies to manage the long-standing problem.

Lawyers for Liberty executive director Eric Paulsen said any law created to deal with the haze would only work if Indonesian authorities cooperate and get to the bottom of what causes the haze.

“Laws are not magic wands that can make haze disappear. It takes political will and political cooperation for the Indonesian authorities to stop the haze,” he told Malay Mail Online when contacted.

Bar Council Environment and Climate Change committee chairman Roger Chan said reactive statements by Putrajaya do little to solve the annual problem, especially with the lack of details as to what the law would do and a timeframe for it to be passed and enacted. Read more

Transboundary haze: What to do? – Gurdial Singh Nijar

Source: The Sun Daily

(Deputy President, HAKAM)

Thick smoke rising from over the Ogan Komering Ilir area in South Sumatra on Saturday. Indonesia has launched its biggest operation ever to combat fires blanketing Southeast Asia in smoke, but experts say the poor air quality could continue into next year. – AFP pic, October 19, 2015. Drawn from TMI.

THE haze (or smog) that envelopes us every year is becoming intolerable. It has continued for almost 13 years. Each time we are assured that the levels are acceptable, not that dangerous and a solution is coming. Recently, a deputy minister promised that a “haze free region” will soon be achieved.

The Indonesian government says it’s getting tough – “no more dragging of feet”. True to word 140 suspects were rounded up last month including some corporate figures.

More recently an Indonesian and a Malaysian palm oil company were dealt with rather severely; the former an unprecedented record fine of RM107 million; the latter’s manager jailed for a year as well.

Heavy penalties are rare. Although, to be fair, under the new president Joko Widodo, the Indonesian government has revoked (on Oct 7) the licences of four plantations identified as being the culprits.

But green groups and others are sceptical. Several cases dating back to 2012-2013 remain in limbo with no conviction. Remember, that was when Malaysia had to declare a “haze emergency” because air pollution was at a record high. Read more