Speaking at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) CEO summit, Indonesian vice president Jusuf Kalla blamed the wind for spreading the haze to neighboring countries, stating that it was something beyond Indonesia’s control. He added that the problem would persist next year.
“I’m so sorry to Malaysia and Singapore to say that we cannot control the wind. We don’t want the haze to go everywhere. (It happened) not because we want it to (affect) our neighbours, but because of the wind.”
This year, the haze spread as far as the Philippines, shrouding large parts of South-east Asia for a few months and causing health problems, school closures and flight cancellations.
Although Mr Kalla acknowledged that the haze was a “big problem” affecting the region, he did not offer any practical steps that Indonesia was taking to put an end to it. He said that his government has worked to restore the forests in Indonesia that had disappeared rapidly due to logging, and blamed foreign companies for “teaching our people to log for timber”.
While he thanked countries that sent planes to help put out the fires, he called on more “international cooperation” to solve the problem, saying Indonesia would not be able to do it alone.
Several countries including Singapore and Russia had sent aircraft to help douse the fires this year.
He also reiterated his previous remarks about the “10 months” of good weather enjoyed by Indonesia’s neighbors, “Ten months every year, the good weather goes to our neighbours. You enjoyed it, we did not ask you to pay for it. But if there’s some bad problem, it is our problem to the region too.”