June 29 Finding a way through the haze

June 29 Finding a way through the haze

Editorial

If Indonesia's decision to launch cloud-seeding operations was a concrete attempt to reduce the haze, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's apology to neighbouring countries sought to repair the psychological damage done to relations by the trans-border ecological disaster.

The Indonesian leader deserves appreciation for his gesture, not least because several of his officials had chided Singapore earlier for complaining about the haze.

Such intemperate remarks, accompanied by shrill warnings not to interfere in Indonesia's domestic affairs, was astonishing coming from a rising South-east Asian power.

At one authoritative stroke, the Indonesian President set aside all that acrimony and cleared a diplomatic way through the haze that was clouding Indonesia's regional relations.

But much more needs to be done if the fight against the haze is to move in the right direction. The companies responsible for causing the forest fires that resulted in the haze have to be pursued with all the legal resources and administrative zeal at Indonesia's disposal.

Their nationality is irrelevant: The environmental damage that they have caused is the issue.

Indeed, acting against firms that have broken national laws would demonstrate the very sovereignty that some Indonesian officials have invoked jealously in fending off foreign criticism. Insisting on strict observance of the no-burn policy is Jakarta's best weapon against errant firms.

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Click on thumbnail to view (Photos: SwitchUp.tv, The Star, AFP, Reuters)
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