In an interview with the Jakarta Post, Indonesian forestry expert Herry Purnomo echoed the thoughts of several of his colleagues when he called on Singapore and Malaysia to take more responsibility to fight the haze in the region. He says that both countries should be more responsible as the forest fires were caused by companies owned by their citizens.
“About 50% of palm oil companies operating in Indonesia are owned by Malaysians and Singaporeans,” said Herry. Herry is a scientist with Bogor Agricultural University at the Center for International Forestry Research (Cifor).
He wants Malaysia and Singapore to issue enforce regulations against companies that cause the haze problem, adding that Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore should allocate at least US$10 billion to deal with the forest fires.
“The cost is equal to the estimated total economic losses resulting from the recent smog,” he said. He estimates that Indonesia has lost US$4 billion this year due to the haze problem.
The swidden method, or the clearing of lands by burning them, is often used by Indonesia’s oil palm plantations to cut production costs.
Indonesia’s Riau province declared a state of emergency due to worsening air quality. Children have been ordered to stay away from schools in Malaysia after authorities ordered schools to close in three states and the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya.
An offer by Singapore this week to help put out forest fires was politely turned down by Jakarta, who said it had adequate resources.