Regardless of who the culprit is, Indonesia must take responsibility as the forest fires are happening on its soil, says the health minister.
“Sime Darby Sdn has said they are not involved. We are currently doing checks, and as far as we know there is no evidence to suggest that Malaysian companies are behind it,” he told reporters at the Parliament lobby today.
He said this in response to Indonesian Environment Minister Balthasar Kambuaya’s claim that only eight companies were contributing to the pollution, and they were all owned by Malaysian investors.
The companies are PT Tunggal Mitra Plantation, a unit of Minamas Plantation, a subsidiary of Malaysia-based Sime Darby Plantations; PT Adei Plantation, owned by Kepong Berhad; PT Langgam Inti Hibrida; PT Bumi Reksa Nusa Sejati; PT Udaya Loh Denawi; PT Jatim Jaya Perkasa; PT Multi Gambut Industri; and PT Mustika Agro Lestari.
“The fires are, for sure, on their concessions,” Balthasar was quoted as saying by the Jakarta Post, adding that he would meet his Malaysian counterpart to inform him of the findings and seek a resolution.
But Subramaniam said today: “Whether it is Indonesian, Singaporean or Malaysian companies that are the culprit, the burning is happening on Indonesian soil and under Indonesian law.”
As such, he said, the onus was on the Indonesian government to stop pointing fingers and take immediate steps to resolve the issue.
“We ask Indonesia to be more responsible in this matter. To take immediate steps so this can be controlled. Every year we face this issue.
“It is not a natural disaster. This is man-made, and Indonesia must be more firm in handling this,” said Subramaniam.
Natural Resources and Environment minister G Palanivel will hold talks with his Indonesian counterpart Balthasar Kambuaya on Wednesday to find solutions to the haze situation enveloping the country.
Palanivel said he will be discussing the Asean Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution which was signed by all the Asean members in 2002 to reduce haze pollution in Southeast Asia.
When asked if Malaysian companies in Indonesia should also be held accountable for the haze, he said: “We will take action if the open burning is in Malaysia. But it’s the Indonesian government who must take action,” he said.
It is believed that 50% of Indonesia’s oil palm plantations are controlled by over 50 Malaysian companies with their plantations concentrated in Sulawesi, Kalimantan and Sumatra.