MP SPEAKS | The government should immediately initiate legal proceedings against Malaysian companies that are responsible for jungle fires and open burning in Indonesia.
A joint investigation team (JIT) should be set up by Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore to find and bring those responsible for the jungle fires in Sumatra and Kalimantan to justice and stop this blame game with everyone pointing the finger at someone else.
Malaysia can emulate Singapore’s move to pass the Transboundary Haze Pollution Act 2014 which allows regulators to prosecute companies and individuals that cause severe air pollution in Singapore by burning forests and peatlands in neighbouring countries.
In 2014, Singapore took legal action under its Transboundary Haze Pollution Act 2014 that led to massive fines against several Indonesian companies blamed for plantation fires.
This act gives Singaporean authorities the power to go after companies that cause haze, even though they have no operations in the city-state.
Section 5 of the act states that Singapore can fine S$100,000 for each day that a local or foreign company contributes to unhealthy levels of haze pollution in Singapore, subject to a maximum fine of S$2 million.
The Malaysian government should lead efforts to tackle the source of the problem - jungle fires in Indonesia - and put a stop to that permanently, according to Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) president Meenakshi Raman.
The Asean mechanism of cooperation must be stepped up and improved to be effective, including through the establishment of the Asean Coordinating Centre for Transboundary Haze Pollution Control (ACCT-HPC).
The crux of the problem of transboundary haze is the systemic causes of the forest fires, and the corporate activities which are largely responsible for them.
Effective action must then be taken to stop these unsustainable forestry and plantation activities, including in preventing the use of fire in land clearing activities.
CHARLES SANTIAGO is MP for Klang.
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