Singapore business body urges counterpart to act

PHOTO: Singapore business body urges counterpart to act

SINGAPORE's leading business association has urged its Indonesian counterpart to promote more sustainable ways of farming among its members and to stop slash-and-burn land-clearing.

The Singapore Business Federation (SBF) also noted that negotiating an end to the perennial haze issue would be a potent sign that Asean as a group can progress on far-reaching trade treaties.

SBF chairman Tony Chew outlined federation concerns in a letter to Mr Suryo Sulisto, chairman of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin).

He said the haze could have catastrophic consequences on health and economy.

"The degradation of our atmosphere and environment is hitting the population and companies in our region. It is also putting the Asean community at risk. If we cannot work together on the haze, how can we progress towards the Asean Economic Community by 2015?"

The SBF, which represents over 18,000 companies, also asked Kadin to embark on a new joint initiative to raise corporate social responsibility among public agencies, plantation firms, farmers and their cooperatives to promote healthy, sustainable practices.

Mr Chew followed the letter up with a phone call and said Mr Sulisto was open to the ideas: "He looks forward to a meeting between Kadin and SBF to discuss the matter in more detail."

Meanwhile, one of the companies blamed for starting fires by activist groups has offered assistance in the form of helicopters, fire engines and firefighters to put out fires outside of its areas.

Asia Pacific Resources International Limited (April), which denies it is behind the fires, said Indonesia's National Agency for Disaster Management had accepted its offer of help.

April said it was providing water trucks, excavators, firefighting equipment and human resources within a 5km to 10km radius of the group's concessions.

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