S'pore pledges cooperation with Indonesia to tackle haze [TODAY Online]

Singapore is committed to help combat fires should the need arise

TODAY Online

Minister Masagos

Ahead of the need for continued vigilance in the upcoming dry season, Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli has told Indonesian leaders that Singapore is committed to help combat fires should the need arise.

During a two-day visit to Jakarta and Palembang which ended on Tuesday, Mr Masagos reaffirmed the Republic’s commitment to cooperate with Indonesia in addressing environmental challenges, including the haze issue.

He told Indonesian Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Wiranto in Jakarta that Singapore is prepared to provide a C-130 aircraft for cloud seeding operations, a Singapore Civil Defence Force team to provide assessment and planning assistance in fire-fighting efforts, up to two C-130 aircraft to ferry the fire-fighting assistance team, as well as high-resolution satellite pictures of fires and the coordinates of the fire sites.

Mr Masagos also expressed his appreciation for the measures put in place by the Indonesian Government, which contributed to the haze-free skies last year.

Thanking Mr Masagos for conveying the Singapore Government’s support, Coordinating Minister Wiranto also stressed the need for close cooperation in combatting the haze.

Transboundary haze, a long-standing problem in South-east Asia, is largely caused by the drainage of carbon-rich peatland, as well as fires started by farmers and companies to clear land for agriculture and industrial plantations.

Between September and November 2015, Singapore experienced its worst haze, with the Pollutant Standards Index hitting hazardous levels.

In Palembang, Mr Masagos met South Sumatra Governor Alex Noerdin who shared the province’s efforts to prevent fires during the upcoming dry season and beyond. These include early warning alerts for hotspots, regional deployment of assets for quicker response to fires, and a stronger coordination among all stakeholders.

Singapore also affirmed its willingness to collaborate with South Sumatra on training and sustainable development programmes.

At an earlier panel discussion at the Singapore Dialogue on Sustainable World Resources in April, Mr Noerdin pledged that Singapore and the region will not experience haze arising from forest fires in the Indonesian province this year despite forecasts of a longer and hotter dry season.

During his visit to Indonesia earlier this week, Mr Masagos also met with Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Luhut Pandjaitan.

They discussed collaboration on water and waste management, and waste-to-energy (WTE) systems.

Mr Luhut expressed interest in learning more about WTE processes and technologies, including conducting technical exchanges and capacity building initiatives.

Noting the strengthening bilateral ties, both Mr Masagos and Mr Luhut said there is scope to build on this long-standing relationship for further cooperation. 

Source: TODAY Online

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