Asean Secretariat told to do more in combating haze


KUALA LUMPUR: Regional environment ministers have called on the Asean Secretariat to play a more active role in coordinating efforts by member countries to reduce haze-inducing hot spots, said Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Douglas Uggah Embas.

Datuk Seri Douglas Uggah Embas

He said the matter was decided during the 12th Meeting of the Sub-Regional Ministerial Steering Committee (MSC) on Transboundary Haze Pollution on Friday  in Bangkok, Thailand.

“The meeting accepted Malaysia’s proposal for the Asean Secretariat to play a more active role to coordinate monitoring activities, including the ability to decide when certain action is to be activated to reduce hot spots in member countries,” he told Bernama yesterday.

He said the proposal was supported by Singapore and later adopted by the meeting.

“We hope that with the decision, the Asean Secretariat will have more clout to monitor and take action to reduce hot spots,” he said.

The minister said Indonesia took the opportunity to explain its action plan on hot spot reduction, but Kuala Lumpur hoped the republic could do more.

“Indonesia has promised to strengthen legal enforcement in order to be more effective in bringing to book those involved in open burning and other  activities that contribute to fires.” He said Indonesia had pledged to reduce by 20 per cent each year the number of hot spots, based on the 2006 figure of 20,000.

“So far this year, we don’t think they can meet the target. That’s why we’re pushing for the Asean Secretariat to enhance its role,” he noted.

He also said that the Asean Specialised Meteorological Centre had indicated that the dry weather condition would continue until early October. — Bernama

“During this period, occasional extended dry spells could lead to increased occurrences of hot spots and transboundary smoke haze in the region.

“The countries involved have agreed to remain vigilant and be prepared for any occurrence of transboundary smoke haze from fires during the coming weeks,” he added. — Bernama