Singapore urges Indonesia to ratify ASEAN haze treaty

Singapore urges Indonesia to ratify ASEAN haze treaty

NAY PYI TAW, Myanmar - Singapore has again called on Indonesia to ratify the ASEAN treaty on transboundary haze pollution and asked for cooperation on a haze monitoring system, at a foreign ministers' meeting here yesterday.

Singapore Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam told reporters: "We welcomed the Indonesian President's active intervention to deal with the issue earlier this year.

"But there are many signs that the El Nino phenomenon will come back in the second half and that could exacerbate the situation, so we hope that Indonesia could ratify the ASEAN treaty on transboundary haze pollution."

Mr Shanmugam, who is also Law Minister, said Singapore pointed out that progress on the implementation of the ASEAN Haze Monitoring System has, "to put it mildly", not been particularly rapid.

"We are ready and willing. The monitoring system will help identify the perpetrators and bring them to justice.

"So we are really hoping, asking for cooperation on that."

The ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution was signed in June 2002. Of the ASEAN 10, Indonesia is the only country which has yet to ratify the treaty.

Indonesia's Parliament looks set to ratify the agreement this year after holding out for more than a decade.

The next step will be for the Indonesian government to table the draft Bill for Parliament to ratify the pact before a full session of Parliament, after its April elections.

The ASEAN members also approved a joint haze monitoring system last October.

The $100,000 monitoring system was developed by Singapore.

It is expected to make use of land concession maps from each country, hot spot data and high resolution satellite images to identify companies responsible for burning land illegally.

This article was published on May 11 in The Straits Times.

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