Balakrishnan calls for transparency, urgency in dealing with haze
There is an urgent need for governments, non-governmental organisations and local communities to collaborate, insist on transparency, expedite investigations and prosecute those responsible for forest fires, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan says.
This is why Singapore has drafted legislation that will impose criminal and civil liabilities on companies causing transboundary haze.
Mr Balakrishnan made this point in his speech at the Forests Asia Summit in Jakarta today.
The root of the problem is misaligned commercial interests, he noted, with companies burning forests for short-term profits.
"The main victims are the locals living on adjacent lands," Mr Balakrishnan added.
"The same companies causing the problem are not being made to pay for the damage they cause to the people most affected."
He said that Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has acknowledged that the Riau forest fires were a "major disaster" and has committed to the development of a unified map of land use which will help mitigate deforestation.
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