Abdul Karim calls on Indonesia to take tougher actions to tackle haze

A government building in the distance enveloped by heavy haze.

By Wilfred Pilo

KUCHING,Sept 6: Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah expressed concerns that the current haze situation could affect tourism activities in Sarawak.

He remarked that the increasing numbers of hotspots, including due to widespread open burning, in neighbouring Kalimantan, Indonesia have sparked haze warning in Sarawak.

“Our neighbour Indonesia need to take stricter measures and impose proper law to control and stop open burning because the wind directions have potential to bring haze to the state which is bad for the tourism sector,” he told a press conference after announcing the events for the upcoming 10th Asian Bird Fair 2019 at his office in Bangunan Baitul Makmur here today.

“It is not healthy for everybody including visitors coming to the state,” he said.

While Sarawak cannot stop the haze from coming, Karim emphasised that Indonesia president Joko Widodo had pledged to act against forest fires so that the harmful haze will not recur and affect neighbouring countries again.

“But it (haze) seemed to be repeating. It is difficult to comment because we are not pointing fingers. I know it is very difficult to control villagers and companies from doing open burning which is considered the easiest way to clear land for replanting of crops,” he said.

“Small burning is unlikely to cause haze but widespread burning like big plantations could create haze that can seriously affect others,” he added.

Karim thus opined that Indonesia needed stronger efforts including enforcing stricter law to tackle the man-made crisis and prevent it from affecting the neighbouring countries.

“I hope the wind direction will change in next few days so that our state would not be shrouded in haze which in turn could affect the tourism sector,” he said, while calling the Indonesian authorities to take the right measures as promised by their president.— DayakDaily