Don’t rely on diplomatic note, contact Indonesia directly to tackle haze

Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar

KUCHING, Sept 7: Santubong MP Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar has queried if the Ministry of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change (Mestecc) has contacted Indonesia with regards to the over 1,000 hotspots detected in the neighbouring country.

Worried and concerned about the present haze situation, he said Kuching, Samarahan, Sri Aman as well as border villages and settlements have been experiencing poor air quality with Air Pollution Index (API) breaching the unhealthy level.

“The question is, what is the Minister of Environment Malaysia doing? Has she got in touch with her counterpart in Indonesia about the 1,000 over hotspots detected in Indonesia?,” he asked.

“What kind of assistance have we offered to Indonesia under the Haze Agreement of 2002?” he further queried.

“During my time in Natural Resources and Environment Ministry, I never missed calling for the meeting of National Haze and Dry Season Committee meeting in May each year,” added Wan Junaidi, who was former Natural Resources and Environment minister.

He pointed out that the multi-agencies committee comprised of representatives from the Meteorological Department, Department of Environment (DoE), police, Fire and Rescue Department (Bomba), army, air force, Education Ministry, Health Ministry and many other stakeholders.

“The Meteorological and Environment Department would brief on the weather and possible fire and haze. I would remind everyone of their roles, SOP (standard operation procedure) and laws and gave instructions and guidelines if haze were to occur,” he advised.

The committee, he continued, would then give mandate for the DoE to immediately re-establish rapport and contact with their counterpart in Indonesia for the exchange of information.

“This contact and rapport is considered the best diplomatic action on low-level instead of delivering diplomatic note,” he said.

“After that, I would receive weekly report of our communication with the Indonesia relevant authorities. These would activate the Indonesian actions in their country,” he added.

As follow-up procedure, Wan Junaidi would then briefed the cabinet on a weekly basis on the haze and fire situations and if he needed further leverage, he would request Prime Minister’s or Deputy Prime Minister’s help.

“I am not sure whether the Minister of Environment placed such importance on the haze or not. Please do not rely on the diplomatic note, (but also) established contact and rapport,” he urged.

“I do not know whether these are being done now or not. In my time, I even requested the Asean secretariat to study the impact and effect of haze on health, social and economy of the countries affected,” he elaborated.

Wan Junaidi highlighted that the Asean Ministerial Committee meetings were held several times after the bad haze of 2014 and 2015.

A steering committee comprised of Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, Singapore, and Malaysia was formed to discuss thoroughly the haze problem that disrupted life, work, businesses and jeopardised health in the countries affected.

“The steering committee after deliberating several times brought the resolutions to the Asean Ministerial Committee meeting for further deliberation and endorsement,” he said.

“It was then agreed, among others, that Indonesian was to take serious measures, enforcement, regulations and on top of that, agreed on the Road Map for Asean to be free of haze by 2020,” he added.

He pointed out that the Indonesian delegation also assured the meeting that they would take all the necessary measures which resulted in no haze in 2016 and 2017.

“Obviously, there was no haze in 2016 and 2017 while there was slight haze in 2018. But now August 2019, the haze is back,” he said.— DayakDaily