- POSTED: 17 Jan 2014 20:24
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Members of ASEAN have been slow in adopting the Haze Monitoring System, says Singapore's Foreign Affairs Minister K Shanmugam at the ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Retreat in Bagan, Myanmar.
BAGAN, Myanmar: Members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have been slow in adopting the Haze Monitoring System.
Singapore's Foreign Affairs Minister K Shanmugam said this after attending the ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Retreat in Bagan, Myanmar on Friday.
The haze monitoring system was developed by Singapore and aims to identify responsible parties and the causes of regional haze.
Singapore and other countries in the region were hit by a severe haze last year, which caused Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) levels to peak at a record high of 400 in June.
At the ASEAN Summit in Brunei in 2013, ASEAN leaders agreed to adopt a transboundary haze monitoring system.
But there has been limited progress since then.
Mr Shanmugam, who is also Singapore's Law Minister, said: "There has been some degree of, I won't say resistance, but a lack of movement. And we expressed our hope that that can change, and a degree of disappointment that it hasn't happened a bit faster."
He said this issue affects ASEAN's credibility as a whole.
With the dry season approaching, there is concern that the haze could occur again.
Without giving details, Mr Shanmugam pointed out that if ASEAN continues to do nothing, individual countries would be forced to take unilateral steps to handle the matter, within the confines of international law.
On ASEAN's aim to achieve an economic community by the end of next year, Mr Shanmugam said the group has accomplished 80 per cent of the targets.
But achieving the remaining 20 per cent "is not going to be easy. It is going to be challenging and we in ASEAN have to work at it," he said.
Myanmar has been applauded for pulling off a successful Foreign Ministers' Meeting.
But its first stint as ASEAN chair also has a symbolic significance.
Mr Shanmugam said: "The fact that the country, which has been subject to so many sanctions, is now the chair of ASEAN shows how fully the integration has taken place. We are all fully supportive of Myanmar carrying out its duties. They have set out a very ambitious task for themselves and they have done well."
The Foreign Ministers' Meeting marks the official start to a series of ASEAN meetings in 2014, leading up to the Regional Leaders' Summit later this year.