Companies linked to haze may be penalised when entering Malaysia, says Guan Eng

Indonesia has blamed the transboundary haze enveloping the region in part on Malaysian companies involved in slash-and-burn clearing of forests.

KUALA LUMPUR: Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng says companies found to be linked to the transboundary haze that has enveloped the region for weeks now may be penalised upon entering Malaysia, as Indonesia points the finger at companies which Jakarta claims are involved in forest-clearing activities in the country.

“Because we cannot go extraterritorial,” he told reporters after an event here today.

“That is the suggestion the government is looking at,” he added without revealing whether such action would only involve local companies.

Extraterritorial jurisdiction normally allows governments to exercise authority beyond their normal boundaries.

Earlier this month, Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin said her ministry was awaiting the green light from the Cabinet to draft a Transboundary Haze Act.

She said the act was to allow action to be taken against Malaysian companies that cause transboundary haze.

At present, Malaysia has only domestic law on the matter, namely the Environmental Quality Act 1974 which has a specific provision prohibiting open burning.

Indonesia had named four Malaysian companies which it claimed were involved in slash-and-burn clearing of forests.

The companies are West Kalimantan-based Sime Indo Agro, a unit of Sime Darby Plantation; Sukses Karya Sawit, a unit of IOI Corporation; Rafi Kamajaya Abadi, a unit of TDM Bhd; and Riau-based Adei Plantation and Industry, a unit of Kuala Lumpur Kepong Group.

Speaking today, Lim added that Putrajaya might include a new household income demarcation of B20 instead of B40 in the 12th Malaysia Plan.

However, he said this would only be done after a detailed study, and that it might be too late to include it in the 2020 budget to be tabled in October.

He was referring to a study by Khazanah Research Institute which proposed a change to the household income categories of B40, M40 and T20.

The study suggested that the government readjust the lowest 20%, middle 50% and top 30% of households.