Malaysia not to assist Malaysian firms burning land in Indonesia

The Malaysian government will not provide assistance to Malaysian companies that violate Indonesian regulations, including setting fires on lands to expand plantations.

“We will not interfere with the companies violating regulations,” Malaysian consul here Azizah bin Ismail informed reporters on Tuesday.

She stated that the Indonesian government should enforce its laws without the need to involve the Malaysian government if the companies violated regulations.

“We will not blame the regional government and this country because companies must obey local regulations,” the Malaysian consul asserted.

Regarding PT Adei Plantation, which is now in court over a land fire case in Riau, Azizah added that her side was monitoring the case.

Indonesian government should enforce its laws without the need to involve the Malaysian government if the companies violated regulations

Malaysian consul in Pekanbaru, Azizah bin Ismail

She pointed out that at a glance, the company actually did not commit a violation or burn land but her side was waiting for the results of the court proceedings.

“Malaysian firms are always called on to obey the regulations of countries where they are operating, including in the Riau Province,” she noted.

Earlier activists from the Indonesian Environmental Forum (Walhi) and the Riau Forest Protector Network staged a rally in front of the Malaysian consulate in Pekanbaru. They carried banners reading, among others, Fighting Malaysian Haze.

They urged the Malaysian government to offer an apology to the Indonesian government because its companies were found to have practiced land burning.

But the Malaysian consul reiterated that the matter had no relations with the Malaysian government because the company was a private firm, not a Malaysian government-owned one.

“So, Malaysia has no need to offer an apology to the Indonesian government,” she clarified.

In the meantime, Pekanbaru and surrounding areas have been affected by haze over the past week. But, the visibility on Tuesday morning was the worst as it was reduced to below 500 metres between 6 am and 8 am local time.

The Terra and Aqua Satellite detected 297 hotspots of forest fires on Sumatra Island on Tuesday morning, a significant increase from 62 hotspots detected on the previous day.

Of the total 297 hotspots, 140 hotspots were in North Sumatra, 81 in Riau province, 67 in Aceh Darussalam, three respectively in Riau Islands and West Sumatra, Bibin Sulianto, an analyst from the Pekanbaru meteorological, climatology and geophysics agency (BMKG), stated in Pekanbaru on Tuesday.

Sulianto noted that he did not know where the hotspots came from, but he was sure that the hotspots did not have anything to do with the eruption of Mount Sinabung in North Sumatra.

In Siak district, Riau province, the authorities decided to shut around 210 schools for two days (Feb 11-12) due to the haze coming from forest and plantation fires.

“A total of 210 schools are being kept closed because the haze is getting thicker and may cause harm to children,” Head of the Siak education office Kadri Yafis stated on Tuesday.

The schools, consisting of elementary, junior and senior high schools, are located across 13 sub-districts in Siak district.

Indonesia is hit by forest fires almost every year. Some of the fires have been set deliberately by irresponsible plantation companies hoping to clear the land for plantations or farming activities. This is against the existing laws in Indonesia.

Garuda Indonesia, Lion Air and Air Asia have postponed their flights to Pekanbaru, Riau, on Tuesday as haze from forest and plantation fires have reduced visibility to 500 metres.

Garuda was initially scheduled to land at Sultan Syarif Kasim II airport in Pekanbaru at 7 am, local time, and Lion Air at 8 am, but their landings were postponed until 10 am, the airports duty manager, Baiquni, stated here on Tuesday. Garuda and Lion Air flights were flying from Jakarta.

Air Asia, too, decided to delay its flight from Bandung, West Java, to Pekanbaru by two hours, again, due to the haze.

A number of flights from Pekanbaru to other destinations were also delayed in the morning.

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