COMMENT | On Aug 3, 2020, Malaysia’s Environment and Water Minister Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man announced in Parliament that plans to introduce a Malaysian Transboundary Haze Act (MTHA) have been scrapped.
This was an unexpected announcement, considering his earlier statement that “all the good initiatives introduced during the Pakatan Harapan administration will be continued in the (new) Environment Ministry”.
As Indonesia remains on high alert for fires and haze threatens to descend on us again in the coming months, the shelving of the MTHA represents a significant missed opportunity on several counts.
Firstly, the MTHA would have been a strong message to other Asean member states that Malaysia is serious about holding accountable any of its own entities found to be complicit in haze-producing fires.
Secondly, this legal instrument would have been a welcome additional deterrent against errant companies, as the government’s capacity to respond directly to fires and haze is reduced during the pandemic...