S'pore looking into laws to deal with firms behind haze

S'pore looking into laws to deal with firms behind haze

Singapore is looking at introducing extra-territorial laws to deal with companies found responsible for slash-and-burn practices that caused the haze, Law Minister K. Shanmugam disclosed in Parliament on Monday.

The Attorney-General has been asked to study the possibility of extending the arm of the law beyond Singapore's borders, as well as to "consider what legal options are available, if credible and usable evidence is received that Singapore-linked companies are involved", he said.

The announcement was made in his response to MPs' questions at the first parliamentary session since the haze crisis began last month.

Many MPs had asked if tougher action could be taken against errant companies and Indonesia.

Several MPs were uncompromising in urging stiff measures against the companies, with Ms Irene Ng (Tampines GRC) calling for a boycott of companies found to be at fault.

Mr Shanmugam, who is also the Foreign Minister, said the primary responsibility for taking the companies to task lay in the hands of Indonesia.

Singapore, however, has formally sought from Indonesia, via a diplomatic note, clarification on whether Singapore-linked companies were involved and, if so, evidence of wrong-doing.

"We are awaiting Indonesia's response," he said.

Mr Shanmugam, who praised Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono for showing "statesmanship" by apologising, stressed that Singapore had hitherto adopted a cooperative stance in its dealings with Indonesia and other ASEAN states.

The approach has yielded encouraging outcomes, he added.

A three-way cooperative process involving Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia has been set up to tackle the haze problem.

It was significant, he added, that all ASEAN countries now had to report at ASEAN summits "what they have done and what they have not done" on the haze issue.

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