Sunday, June 23, 2013
The Indonesian response to Malaysian criticism on the haze was to name only eight companies that are contributing to the pollution – all owned by Malaysian investors.
Environment Minister Balthasar Kambuaya made it clear to reporters yesterday that the eight were using the cheap but outlawed slash-and-burn methods to clear land for their plantations.
“The fires are, for sure, on their concessions,” Balthasar was reported by the Jakarta Post as saying in Riau’s capital Pekanbaru.
He said: “I will immediately meet my Malaysian counterpart to inform him of the findings and seek ways to resolve the current issue and stop recurrence in the future.”
The allegations will be followed up by Riau Police, he added.
Malaysia’s Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri G. Palanivel is headed to Indonesia on Wednesday to meet Balthasar. Underscoring the urgency of the issue is the fact that Palanivel is leaving Malaysia just two days after the first sitting of the 13th Parliament tomorrow.
He is expected to try to cobble out a pact with the Indonesians on what to about the haze.
But it appears the talks will also include the 8 companies that are owned by Malaysian investors.
One of them is PT Tunggal Mitra Plantation, a unit of Minamas Plantation, a subsidiary of Malaysia-based Sime Darby Plantations, one of the world’s largest listed oil palm plantations.
Another is PT Adei Plantation, owned by Kepong Berhad.
The others are PT Langgam Inti Hibrida, PT Bumi Reksa Nusa Sejati, PT Udaya Loh Denawi, PT Jatim Jaya Perkasa, PT Multi Gambut Industri, and PT Mustika Agro Lestari.
Plantation companies have often ordered local people to burn forest or peatland near their concessions, hoping that the fire will spread onto their land.
“Once the fire takes hold of their concessions, the companies shift the blame onto the local residents as if the fire had accidentally and spread to their land,” Balthasar was reported to have said by the Jakarta Post.