Looking for a clear answer

Source: http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2006/7/16/nation/14853986&sec=nation

Sunday July 16, 2006

Looking for a clear answer

BY STEPHEN THEN

MIRI: Malaysia and Indonesia are meeting to work out standard measures that both countries can carry out to prevent peat soil fires in oil palm plantations.

The move is aimed at averting another major haze incident in the region.

Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Peter Chin Fah Kui will be going to Medan tomorrow to meet Indonesian Minister of Agriculture Anton Apriyantono to look at measures that could be adopted to keep plantations in both countries fire-free.

There are 38 Malaysian companies operating more than 800,000ha of oil palm plantations in Sumatra and Kalimantan now. The ministry wants all of them to adhere to zero burning in their plantations, but this must be a standard thing with Indonesia.

If we are talking about preventing peat soil fires in plantations, it is pertinent that both countries make zero burning a standard practice, he said yesterday at his office here.

Chin was commenting on what early measures were being taken to ensure that Malaysian-owned oil palm plantations in Indonesia were not again blamed for causing a regional haze.

Last year, fires in Indonesia blanketed the region in haze and the Indonesian authorities had largely blamed Malaysian companies for causing it, alleging that they had carried out massive open burning of waste.

Last week, parts of Peninsular Malaysia were affected by a slight haze, believed to be caused by trans-boundary smoke originating from 399 hotspots detected in various parts of Indonesia.

Chin said as far as he knew, no Malaysian companies operating in Indonesia had resorted to open burning.