Singapore's former PM praises Yudhoyono's response to haze cloud

Handout Photo: Indonesian President (2nd R) inspects government firefighting personnel during a sendoff ceremony at the Halim Perdanakusuma airport in Jakarta on June 25, 2013.

JAKARTA - Singapore's former prime minister Goh Chok Tong praised the Indonesian government for its ability to tackle the haze crisis caused by land and forest fires in Riau.

In a statement posted on his Facebook account, on Sunday morning, Goh expressed his gratitude to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. He said the President had shown a strong leadership in dealing with the transnational problem.

"As the saying goes, when there is a will, there is a way. Thank you, President SBY, for showing this will, graciousness and dignified statesmanship," Goh wrote, as quoted by

Interestingly, Goh also took the opportunity to criticise several ministers from the United Indonesia Cabinet II whom he said had made 'harsh, hostile and unconstructive' statements.

"[…] This is appreciated, in contrast with the boorish remarks of some of his ministers," said Goh.

The Singaporean politician who currently serves as senior emeritus minister opened his statement by praising the improved condition due to several initiatives taken by the Indonesian government.

"Hot spots down in Sumatra. PSI (pollutant standard's index) in moderate range, helped by rain, wind direction change and Indonesian President's directive to his Ministers to put out the many fires," Goh said.

"To prevent this type of crisis from happening again in the future, the parliament member from the Marine Parade constituency highlighted that "prevention was better than cure".

"It may not be possible to totally stop poor farmers from using slash-and-burn practices but it should be easy to prevent commercial plantation owners from doing so," said Goh. "With satellite technology, new laws if necessary and political will, smoking guns can be identified, confiscated and made to pay if they are fired."

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