Indonesia urges neighbors to stop complaining about haze
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Indonesia urges neighbors to stop complaining about haze

THE Indonesian government has urged its neighbors to cease complaining about the annual haze problem, following efforts by the nation to douse forest fires caused every year by farmers clearing land for agricultural use.

According to UPI, Indonesia instead called on its neighbors to be more sympathetic, although it said it “respects” the complaints over the haze caused by the fires.

“All outsiders should withhold unnecessary comments but see the efforts which are systematically and seriously being carried out by the government of Indonesia,” Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar said in a statement on Monday.

The minister said the government had reduced the number of fires by 75 percent from last year as there were only 2,256 fires this year compared to 8,247 between Jan and Aug 2015.

She said those responsible for the fires are currently being prosecuted and that Indonesia’s firefighters are working tirelessly to extinguish the flames.

The government, she added, has either imposed administrative sanctions or brought civil lawsuits against 40 companies that started fires in 2015.

“Currently, the Ministry for the Environment and Forestry has enforced a temporary moratorium on forest management permits, palm plantations and management of peatlands,” she said. “This is one step to evaluate, and at the same time fix the management of natural resources by taking into account environmental factors.”

Meanwhile, Nurbaya’s Malaysian counterpart said the transboundary haze this year is not expected to be as severe as in previous years.

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar gave this assurance on Monday as Malaysian netizens took to social media to complain about deteriorating air quality.

“The probability and severity of the haze hitting our country will be lesser this time around due to the commitment by Indonesia to control their land-clearing activities,” he was quoted as saying in the New Straits Times.

Wan Junaidi said Indonesia has been keeping to its promise to control the fires.

“Besides that, the end of the El Nino season in the country was also a contributing factor for the clearer skies this time around,” he said.