Haze Fines Win Indonesia’s Support With Caveats: Southeast Asia

The incoming president of Indonesia, a holdout in Southeast Asia’s pact to fight haze, is backing Singapore’s plan to wield heftier fines against overseas polluters as long as sovereignty is respected.

A year after the city-state endured its worst-ever air quality, Singapore presented a bill to Parliament this month that subjects foreign companies to as much as S$2 million ($1.6 million) in fines for illegal emissions, up from S$300,000 before. Indonesia and Singapore have a long-standing dispute over the haze that blows in from land-clearing fires in Sumatra.

Indonesia's "haze" pollution defences not enough, says green group

Indonesia's promises to tackle the upcoming annual "haze" season with a $30 million fund and limited military equipment have been called into question by experts anticipating worse pollution levels than last year due to the El Nino weather pattern.

Indonesia has failed in previous attempts to stop the regional haze, with last year giving the worst pollution readings since 1997. Outgoing Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was forced in mid-2013 to apologise to neighbours Singapore and Malaysia, which were blanketed in thick smog caused by forest fires in Indonesia.

Indonesia: Participatory approach needed to overcome haze

Indonesia needs to take a participatory approach where the central government, local administrations, non-governmental organizations, research institutions and the local people work together to resolve the annual haze problem, which often disturbed neighboring countries.

"In addition to a participatory approach, there should also be a political approach and scientific research on how to handle it," Asmin Amin, a member of Commission VII of the House of Representatives (DPR) on environment Affairs, said recently.

Anti-haze bill 'to be tabled later this year': S'pore minister

A bill that penalises those responsible for causing transboundary haze will be tabled in Parliament by the second half of this year, Singapore's Environment and Water Resources Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said.

A draft of the proposed Transboundary Haze Pollution Bill was published in February for public consultation, and Dr Balakrishnan told The Straits Times in an interview yesterday that he wanted another round of consultations with those who had made suggestions.

Singapore’s haze this year ‘could be worse’ than last year’s record haze

First, haze hit Singapore earlier this month as the region suffered a prolonged dry spell. This is unusually early compared to the traditional June to September dry season in Indonesia, when most burning to clear land takes place.

Second, the recent haze in Riau province in Sumatra, Indonesia, is worse than last year. Riau, directly across the Straits of Malacca from Singapore, has suffered from severe haze since February.

Asean to have haze monitoring system

Leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) approved a joint haze monitoring system to identify fires such as those in Indonesia which led to hazardous pollution levels in Singapore and Malaysia this year.

The system will involve the sharing of digitized land-use maps and concession maps of fire-prone areas that cause haze, according to a Singapore government statement on Wednesday. The data will be shared among the governments of Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei and Thailand.

Singapore to discuss haze with ASEAN counterpart

Singapore's Environment and Water Resources Minister Vivian Balakrishnan will meet other ASEAN environment ministers this week to review the implementation and ratification of the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution.

They will also review the haze and fire occurrences in the region over the past year.

The reviews will take place at the 9th Meeting of the Conference of Parties to the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution (COP-9) in Surabaya, Indonesia.

First court case over haze may start next month

THE first case of a company charged with illegal burning may land in a Riau district court next month, said a senior Indonesian official, even as the haze thickened and meteorologists warned of more hot spots through October.

"Most of the cases have moved to the investigations stage and we expect the first case ready to be in court by end of September," Mr Mas Achmad Santosa, deputy of a presidential task force, told The Straits Times on the sidelines of a United Nations-led workshop on Forestry Law.