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Indonesian lawmakers react positively to Singapore’s Transboundary Haze Pollution Bill

Indonesian lawmakers as well as one of Asia's largest pulp and paper producers have reacted positively to Singapore's newly-passed Bill to impose fines on companies that contribute to transboundary haze pollution in Singapore.

JAKARTA: Indonesian lawmakers as well as one of Asia's largest pulp and paper producers have reacted positively to Singapore's newly-passed Bill to impose fines on companies that contribute to transboundary haze pollution in Singapore.

The legislators even said that the Bill pushes them to find their own solution to the problem.

As a leading pulp and paper manufacturer in Asia, APRIL has been accused of being a major contributor to the transboundary haze problem in Southeast Asia. But it has welcomed Singapore's move to penalise companies that contribute to the haze.

Praveen Singhavi, president of the APRIL Group, said: "I think it is a good initiative taken in the right direction, so I believe it is a good deterrent for people who engage in slash-and-burn policies. However, Indonesia's land use is a very complex land use, overlapping issues are there, community disputes are there."

Mr Singhavi feels that an approach involving all parties - the community, the private sector and the government - needs to be taken in order for the haze problem to be effectively tackled. And that collaborative approach also extends to governments in the region.

Most legislators tasked with tackling the haze are adamant that a solution will come through regional cooperation. The current parliament is planning to push through legislation before its period in office ends on September 30. And the lawmakers see Singapore's new Bill as an impetus to push through their own legislation.

Milton Pakpahan, Head of the Indonesian Parliament Commission on Energy and the Environment, said: "We appreciate the decision and it urges us to find our own solution to the problem. We will also take steps to ratify the Transboundary Haze Agreement in addition to steps taken by the Ministry of Forestry, the Environment, Central and Regional Government as well as the National Disaster Mitigation Agency to increase community awareness about preventing fires on agricultural land."

Indonesia had signed the Transboundary Haze Agreement in 2002, but efforts for parliament to ratify the pact have been thwarted by political parties which objected that it could infringe on Indonesia's sovereignty.

However, 12 years on, more legislators are beginning to realise the benefits of ratifying the agreement. But with less than two months to go to the end of their term, the window of opportunity for this parliament to approve the treaty is quickly closing. 

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