The Jakarta Post
The ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution does not include any punitive measures to be applied in cases in which dense haze from Indonesia affects other countries, an Indonesian official says.
'There is not even one article in the agreement indicating that the country could be hit with a civil suit,' the Environmental Ministry's deputy to minister for environmental damage control and climate change, Arief Yuwono, said as quoted by Antara news agency.
Arief was speaking to civil servants of the Riau provincial administration in preparation for a meeting with the House of Representatives related to the ratification of the agreement and the coordination of efforts to prevent forest fires.
According to Arief, the agreement states that Malaysia will take responsibility for prevention, Singapore for monitoring, while Indonesia for the mitigation of forest fires.
Under the agreement, both Singapore and Malaysia, as well as other affected countries, agree not to file civil suits against Indonesia when forest fires caused haze.
The government is expected to pass a bill, which is in its final stage of deliberation in the House, to ratify the agreement, before the next government takes office, Antara news agency reported.
Arief explained that Indonesia had an interest in ratifying the agreement to maintain the traditional spirit of cooperation among ASEAN countries ' cross-border cooperation, institutional capacity and human resources building, and the provisional efforts for monitoring and quick response.
He said that the agreement did not touch on sovereignty and national resilience issues, but was completely based on cooperation and partnership values.
The Environmental Ministry previously requested approval at the House twice and was unsuccessful because of the concerns of threats to national sovereignty. (put)
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