No, we’re not protesting, says envoy over smoke from Indonesia

Malaysian ambassador Zainal Abidin Bakar denies that a protest letter was sent to the Indonesian government over the haze problem. (Bernama pic)

JAKARTA: Malaysia has denied pointing fingers at Jakarta over the current haze problem, instead saying that it is offering assistance in tackling forest fires in several provinces in Indonesia.

Malaysian Ambassador to Indonesia Zainal Abidin Bakar said the official letter from the Malaysian government through Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin had recently been made available to the Indonesian government.

“It is not a protest letter, but is of Malaysia’s intention to help deal with the haze,” he told reporters after attending a Malaysia National Day reception last night.

He was responding to Indonesian Minister of Environment and Forestry, Siti Nurbaya Bakar, who said Malaysia had sent a protest letter accusing Indonesia of causing haze in Malaysia.

Siti Nurbaya also reportedly wrote a letter to Zainal seeking clarification on the matter.

She said based on the report from the Indonesian Meteorological, Climatological, and Geophysical Agency, smoke or haze from the fire in Kalimantan was detected to have crossed into Malaysia for only one hour on Sept 8.

“The smoke that entered Malaysia, to Kuala Lumpur, is from Sarawak and from Peninsular Malaysia, and perhaps from parts of west Kalimantan. So (Malaysia) should be objective in explaining it,” Siti Nurbaya said.

Meanwhile, Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said he had yet to receive any protest letter from Malaysia on the matter.

More than 42,000 hectares of land have been burned since January, with hundreds of hectares reportedly still burning in some provinces in Indonesia.

More than 6,000 firefighters, assisted by police and military personnel, have been deployed to put out the fire in several areas in Riau, Jambi, Pekanbaru and Kalimantan.