Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Malaysian Professionals Plan to Sue Indonesia over Haze

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Petir Garda Bhwana

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  • A wooden hut burns due to a forest fire in Palangka Raya, Central Kalimantan province, Indonesia, September 14, 2019. Indonesia and neighbouring countries in Southeast Asia are regularly hit by smoke from slash-and-burn clearances of forests for farms and palm oil plantations, but conditions this year have been the worst since 2015 due to an El Nino weather pattern causing an extended dry spell. REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan

    A wooden hut burns due to a forest fire in Palangka Raya, Central Kalimantan province, Indonesia, September 14, 2019. Indonesia and neighbouring countries in Southeast Asia are regularly hit by smoke from slash-and-burn clearances of forests for farms and palm oil plantations, but conditions this year have been the worst since 2015 due to an El Nino weather pattern causing an extended dry spell. REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan

    TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - A group of Malaysian professionals on Sunday proposed for Putrajaya to sue the Indonesian government. They want Indonesia to pay 1 Malaysian ringgit or Rp3,352 damages for the transboundary haze, in order to compel it to be legally responsible for the almost annual occurrence.

    The group, comprising of doctors, lawyers, academics, social activists and economists, among others, said the move can be a viable one to demand Indonesia’s commitment to put out current fires and prevent future fires.

     “The causes of the annual haze emergency are multifactorial. There is the palm oil factor, the ‘cheaper to burn than to fertilize fields’ factor, irresponsible plantations, corruption factor, lack of technology to fight fires, and perhaps many others. With so many factors, there is no one magic solution," the group said in a statement as quoted by the Malay Mail.

    "We are proposing the closest thing possible to it: a declaratory judgment through a lawsuit that compels the Indonesian Government to assume legal responsibility for the fires in Indonesian territory,” the group said in a statement.

    The group explained that the RM1 amount was chosen since it is difficult to calculate exact damages, and each attempt at calculating will be a waste of resources while demanding a big amount will spark unnecessary tension between the two nation.

    They also said that three other solutions must be provided along with the lawsuit: technical, financial and firefighting aid by Malaysia to Indonesia; legal action in Malaysian courts against any Malaysian companies guilty of open fires in Indonesia; and cooperation between civil societies in the two countries.

    The declaration comes as Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on Sunday that Malaysia needs cooperation from other countries first, particularly neighboring Indonesia before it can tackle the annual haze problem in the long run.

    TEMPO