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A view of the haze in Singapore on Aug 26, 2016_photo channelnewsasia

Masagos said fewer hotspots in Indonesia but haze-free situation should be achieved

The Minister of Environment and Water Resources, Masagos Zulkifli, said on Friday (27 August) that the hotspots in Indonesia this year are fewer than last year.

Mr Masagos said Singapore appreciates the increasing effort of the Indonesian authorities in reducing the hotspots, but what needed is the total prevention of it.

The Indonesian news pojoksulsel.com also reported today that the Indonesian Minister of Forestry and the Environment Siti Nurbaya Bakar claimed this year’s fires have decreased compared to the last year.

Siti Nurbaya Bakar explained that the decrease in fire hotspot points is the result of the regulated steps with an integrated monitoring system.

“Basically, efforts continue to be undertaken, although we must remain vigilant," said the Minister to pojoksulsel.com at the Clarion Hotel Makassar.

She also reminded the Chiefs of the areas to remain alert so that forest fires are not expanded.

photo: twitter.com/sutopo_bnpb
photo: twitter.com/sutopo_bnpb

Meanwhile, Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, head of Data, Information, and Public Relations BNPB (National Board for Disaster Management) on his Twitter account said that the smoke from Riau has reached Malaysia today, blown by the East wind.

Mr Masagos continued, “To their (Indonesia) credit, the number of hotspots this year is far less than what it was the year before, but we can see that even with so few hotspots, with the right amount of the wind and enough haze smoke produced, it can give us very bad air for a sustained period.”

“What we need is not reduced hotspots, what we need is no hotspots; that means the sustainable production of agricultural products without clearing it by fire,” said Mr Masagos.

He also said that this problem must be handled by Singaporeans and Singaporeans companies.

“If Singaporeans do not want the haze to come, they must ensure that they do not buy and support companies that produce their products in an unsustainable way,” he said.

“We must send a clear signal to everyone who produces their product unsustainably that it is just not supportable and unsustainable.”

In answer to a question will Singapore send aid to Indonesia to combat the fires, Mr Masagos said, “The mechanism is in place to do so, and that Singapore will step in if called upon to.”

“We’ve earlier offered the package. It is up to the Indonesians to activate it. When the level requires it, we will go there to help,” he said.

Mr Masagos emphasise, a haze-free situation should be the focus; ASEAN is working together to achieve its goal of becoming haze-free by 2020.

CNA reported that Indonesia had punished 20 firms last December for their negligence that resulted in the haze. Their licenses are revoked, and their operations are stopped.