We'll not pressure Indonesia: DPM Zahid on haze

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia will not pressure Indonesia over the haze issue as the neighbouring country has already shown high commitment to overcome the matter, said Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

The Deputy Prime Minister said Indonesian leaders had already asked for assistance from neighbouring countries to work together to battle the haze.

"We have to assist them to overcome this problem which is a transboundary issue," he told a press conference after delivering his keynote address at the Putrajaya International Security Dialogue (PISD) here yesterday.

He added that Malaysia was prepared to share its best practices in oil palm cultivation with Indonesia in the effort to reduce fires and had personally proposed to the Indonesian President (Joko Widodo). 

Dr Ahmad Zahid cited the example of the system used by TH Plantation Bhd in Riau, where in between every two rows of oil palms, a drain was built to channel water to the plants and to prevent any fire from spreading if it happened.

He said it was however up to the Indonesian government to introduce the best oil palm cultivation system as factors such as costs and getting the co-operation of plantations and smallholders had to be considered.

The haze afflicting Malaysia is a result of widespread clearing of forests in Indonesia for oil palm plantations, most of which are caused by traditional slash-and-burn methods used by smallholders.

After a courtesy call from Aus­tralian Immigration and Border Protection Minister Peter Dutton, Dr Ahmad Zahid said Malaysia and Australia had agreed to share expertise in fighting terrorism threats.

Dr Ahmad Zahid said Malaysia would benefit from Australia's advanced border control experience while Australia could learn from Malaysia's rehabilitation and deradicalisation of extremist programmes.