Asean aims to be haze-free region by 2020


KUALA LUMPUR: Asean countries today unanimously agreed to adopt a road map which would ensure they are haze-free by 2020, said Natural Resources and Environment Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar.

The 10 countries, which sat down to discuss the steps to ensure the goal is met, also reaffirmed Indonesia’s intention to host the Asean Coordinating Centre for Transboundary Haze Pollution Control, he added.

Indonesia has been blamed for the terrible haze that affected Asean countries last year.

According to Wan Junaidi, any action to ensure that the country adopted measures that could improve the situation for years to come must be done within limits.

“We’ll work together to overcome any problem but don’t assume that this means we can just bulldoze through whenever there is a fire.

“It is still a foreign country and it has to deal with (its own problems). We must respect our neighbours’ sovereignty.

“So just because an agreement already exists and we want to set up certain things, (doesn’t mean) we can do it anyway we like.”

Wan Junaidi was speaking at a press conference after chairing the 12th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Asean Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution (AATHP) held at Grand Hyatt hotel here today.

The agreement was reached in 2002 in an effort to solve the ever-growing haze problem faced by the region. Last year, the agreement was ratified by all of Asean member states.

When asked if he expected this year’s haze to be worse than the last, Wan Junaidi said he relied on Indonesia’s assurance that it wouldn’t be so.

He also said Indonesian authorities had promised to deploy 3,000 military personnel to keep a look-out in areas most vulnerable to forest fires.

“The Asean members pledged to remain vigilant and continuously monitor and step up their haze preventive efforts.

“The ministers underlined the need for the members to place priority and commitment to resolve the haze problem within the expected targets and timelines.”

About 100 Asean delegates participated in the two-day conference which concluded today. The next conference will be held and hosted by Brunei.