Asean haze watch system 'delayed by others'

Asean haze watch system 'delayed by others'

SINGAPORE - ASEAN countries have been unable to implement the regional grouping's haze monitoring system because other parties have yet to agree to do so.

Asean's credibility is thus at stake, said Foreign Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam, as he accounted for the less-than-rapid progress on arresting the annual air pollution plaguing the region.

He was taking MPs' questions on Singapore's ties with Indonesia and Malaysia, when he also commented on Malaysian media reports that Johor wished to review the price of raw water sold to Singapore.

On the haze, the minister said that the Asean Sub-Regional Haze Monitoring System, which the 10 Asean countries had agreed to last October, was "ready". But its implementation was stalled by the lack of agreement of "other parties", which he did not name.

The system uses high-resolution satellite images with land use and concession maps to pinpoint culprits which burn land illegally. It was to be implemented in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei and Thailand.

But Mr Shanmugam welcomed a media report on Tuesday saying that the majority of an Indonesian Parliamentary Commission supported in principle the Asean Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution.

Indonesia is the only Asean country that has yet to ratify the decade-old regional haze treaty.

"Thus, once Indonesia agrees, the treaty can come into force," he said.

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