Three Malaysian-owned companies stress they practice zero burning policy, thus denying involvement in the haze problem.
Lembaga Tabung Haji’s plantation arm TH Plantations Berhad (THP) has denied its involvement in the fires, stressing that it adheres to the zero burning policy.
“All our estates [in Riau] are mature, there is no new development and there is no need for re-planting, thus, there is no reason to do open burnings,” said THP CEO Zainal Azwar Zainal Aminuddin.
“And through our aerial surveillance, we can confirm that there is no burning in the perimeters of our plantation,” he said, claiming that the burning occurring outside of the plantations’ perimeters were caused by the local community.
“Satellite images won’t do justice, a person must go on the ground itself to see the extent of the burning,” he added.
Preliminary investigations have singled out eight plantation companies owned by Malaysian investors as the source of forest fires in Riau.
The companies in question are PT Langgam Inti Hibrida, PT Bumi Reksa Nusa Sejati, PT Tunggal Mitra Plantation, PT Udaya Loh Denawi, PT Adei Plantation, PT Jatim Jaya Perkasa, PT Multi Gambut Industri, and PT Mustika Agro Lestari.
Tunggal Mitra is a unit of Minamas Plantation, subsidiary of Malaysia-based Sime Darby Plantations, while Adei Plantation is owned by Kuala Lumpur Kepong Berhad (KLK).
There are claims plantation companies have often ordered local people to burn forest or peat land near their concessions, hoping that the fire will spread onto their land.
A representative from KLK also pushed forward its zero burning policy adherence.
“We practice the zero burning policy whether in Malaysia or Indonesia. And as we are soon venturing into Papua New Guinea, we will strictly abide by this policy, too.
“We would like to reiterate that we do not practice open burning to clear land,” she said.
KLK controls 140,000ha in Belitung Island, Sumatra, central and east Kalimantan.
Meanwhile, IOI Corporation Bhd also echoed KLK’s stance in that it has always adhered to the zero burning policy.
“We abide by it and it has been stated in our annual reports that we do not encourage open burning,” said the representative.
Sime Darby Plantations which runs PT Tunggal Mitra had earlier denied reports of any fires on its property.
It said there were no fires in any of its operating areas in Indonesia and that it strictly adheres to a zero burning policy throughout its operations.
Tunggal Mitra Plantation covers almost 14-thousand hectares, the majority of which is used for planting and development.
At least 50% of oil palm plantations in Indonesia are owned by leading Malaysian companies, mainly in Sulawesi, Kalimantan and Sumatra.
KLK and Sime Darby Bhd are among the local pioneers with huge tracts of oil palm plantation in Indonesia.
Among others, United Plantations Bhd, Asiatic Development Bhd, IJM Plantations Bhd and IOI Corp Bhd have also invested massively in oil palm plantation operations in Indonesia.