Weekend TODAY: WP urges a timeline plan to tackle haze issue

EVEN as the Asean (Association of South-east Asian Nations) environment ministers gathered in Riau to discuss the haze situation, the Workers’ Party (WP) has urged for more concrete measures to tackle the problem.

In a press release issued on Friday, WP chairman Sylvia Lim said Singapore should push for a commitment from the Indonesian government to enhance its domestic laws and prosecute fire starters.

It should draw up a schedule and implementation plan on the “prevention, detection and putting out of fires, including action at the provincial and local levels”, she said.

On Wednesday, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono apologised to Singapore and Malaysia over the haze. On Thursday he said his country would ratify the Asean Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution signed four years ago. Under this, members agree to act to prevent and control burning that may cause pollution in neighbouring countries.

Saying the ratification would have to be pushed through the Indonesian legislature, Ms Lim told Today that Asean should help the Indonesia government set a timeline to do so.

While recognising Indonesia’s sovereignty, the Singapore Government “owes it to Singaporeans” to alleviate the haze situation quickly, said Ms Lim, a Non-Constituency Member of Parliament.

Said Ms Lim: “We have been talking about (the haze problem) since 1992 … but there seems to be no progress.”

She added: “We also recognise that the enforcement for these cross-border problems is always very challenging. If there is a timeline for Indonesia to work to, at least there are some milestones for us to look at, and see if there’s any progress.” – LOH CHEE KONG

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