SINGAPORE - Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's statement that Indonesia would bear full responsibility for the haze problem has shown the thoughtful and refined side of his country to the world ("Indonesian leader says sorry for haze"; June 19).
I hope this will inspire his ministers and other like-minded Indonesians to work closely with Singapore and other ASEAN countries for a permanent solution.
Everyone agrees with Jakarta that the first order of business must be to douse the fires in Sumatra.
The Indonesian firefighters' brave and bold efforts are much appreciated.
We should endeavour towards the day when their valiance is deployed against only acts of nature. This is possible only if the root causes of the haze are weeded out in an honest, transparent and decisive manner.
The vested interests of a few should never be allowed to threaten the lives and livelihoods of so many in the region, including Indonesians, and disrupt the warm ties between our countries.
As a very close neighbour, Singapore is often the first in line to offer assistance to Indonesia whenever a disaster strikes its shores. Singaporeans are also working very closely with their Indonesian friends on sustainable farming techniques in parts of Sumatra.
Ultimately, only Jakarta can do what is right within its own jurisdiction and live up to its reputation as a responsible member of ASEAN and the Group of 20.
I look forward to Indonesia's ratification of the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution.
This would be a very positive first step in dealing with a major irritant to regional ties, the environment and the health and wealth of our nations.
Toh Cheng Seong
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