Indonesia’s Minister of the Environment and Forestry Siti Nurbaya Bakar launched the latest salvo against Singapore and told the islandstate to focus on its own role in combatting the issue instead of “making so many comments”.

This was in response to MEWR Minister Masagos Zulkifli who said at the 3rd Singapore Dialogue on Sustainable World Resources on Friday that agro-forestry companies should take full responsibility for fire prevention and mitigation in their concessions and that there must not be a repeat of last year’s forest fires that cause the haze.

Dr Siti Nurbaya in her cutting statement rebutted that the Indonesian government has taken “substantial steps” to prevent land and forest fires, and the ensuing haze that enveloped the region every year. She said such steps are based on decisions made by the Indonesian government, and not because of pressure from other countries, including Singapore,

Dr Siti said: “We have been consistent in sticking to our part of the bargain, especially by attempting to prevent the recurrence of land and forest fires and by consistently enforcing the law. So, my question is – what has the Singaporean government done? I feel that they should focus on their own role.”

“There is really no need to comment too much on the part Indonesia is currently playing. However, with all due respect to my Singaporean counterpart, what are they doing? And where has it got them?”

“We really appreciate the input provided to us by our Singaporean neighbours and cherish our bilateral partnership, but I would respectfully ask them to stop making so many comments, particularly when it comes to the fires and haze-related issues. We each have our own part to play and we should focus on carrying this out.”

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