The Haze: Another Indonesian Minister slams S'pore

SINGAPORE - Singapore and Malaysia should "know themselves" (tahu diri) over the haze, said Indonesia's Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Jero Wacik (above) on Monday.

He accused both countries of trying to discredit Indonesia over the issue, reported The Straits Times.

"Let me remind our friends from Malaysia, Singapore, don't just because of the haze, tell stories to the world," he said when opening a meeting of senior energy officials from Asean countries in Bali.

"It's called sharing, you go through good times together, don't make noise to the world when things go bad. It's just like husband and wife, don't take your quarrel outside."

Mr Jero also told reporters yesterday that Malaysia and Singapore had made much profit from Indonesia all this while, news website merdeka.com reported. But they were now trying to discredit Indonesia when they should help, he said.

Mr Jero said Malaysia had benefited from bilateral cooperation with Indonesia, including electricity imports from Indonesia.

Singapore, likewise, had also benefited from Indonesia's gas supply and the large number of Indonesian tourists visiting the Republic.

Both countries should sit together to resolve the problem without making a big deal of it to the world, he added.

But later on Monday, his boss, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, struck a more conciliatory tone as he apologised for the haze.

"For what has happened, as President, I say sorry and seek the understanding of our relatives in Singapore and Malaysia," he said.

'No intention to cause this'

"Indonesia had no intention to cause this. And we will continue to bear responsibility to overcome what has happened," he said on Monday evening, reported The Straits Times.

Dr Yudhoyono also criticised some of his ministers' statements to neighbouring countries' reactions to the haze.

He said: "There are statements from several office-holders that I feel need not be put across that way.

"Sometimes the facts have not been checked, and that becomes an issue... There are statements that contradict one another. I have instructed officers that there is no need to give statements like these."

He added that most importantly, all efforts need to be focused on overcoming the haze and burning, saying: "Enforcement action will continue - we leave that to police and the authorities. There is no need to discriminate. Whether it is an Indonesian company or foreign company, the law will be applied firmly and fairly."

His comments came as Indonesia stepped up aerial operations on Monday to extinguish forest fires raging on Sumatra island.

A fourth helicopter was deployed on Monday for "water bombing" sorties, in addition to two planes conducting cloud-seeding runs to induce rain over the parched island, reported AFP.

The police in Sumatra's Riau province said a land owner and a smallholder had been arrested for causing more than 400ha of peat land to catch fire.

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