Suspects of Indonesia’s forest and land fires largely comprise S’pore and M’sian firms: Environment and Forestry Ministry Director-General

Photo: Jakarta Post

A large number of the companies being investigated by the Indonesia’s Ministry of Environment and Forestry (KLHK) for their involvement in forest and land fires leading to haze are foreign ones, including those from Singapore.

Indonesian daily Tempo reported Wed (2 Oct) that two of the 20 foreign companies that have been publicly identified by KLHK as suspects are Singapore-based palm oil company PT AUS in Katingan in Central Kalimantan, and foreign equity participation (PMA) company PT NPC in East Kutai in East Kalimantan.

Three other foreign companies that were labelled as suspects by the Ministry are based in Malaysia, namely PT AER and PT ABP in Ketapang in West Kalimantan, and PT IGP in Landak in West Kalimantan.

Director-General of Law Enforcement of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry Rasio Ridho Sani told reporters on Tue (1 Oct): “Of the 64 we have sealed, there are 20 temporary companies. Most of them are from Malaysia and Singapore.”

CNN Indonesia reported that according to data by KLHK, nine of the firms are Singapore-based, six are from Malaysia, one from Hong Kong, and four others were not stated.

44 other companies, while bearing the status of “domestic investment”, were headed by Singaporeans and Malaysians, CNN Indonesia reported Rasio as saying.

Rasio insisted that Indonesia’s authorities will punish offenders accordingly should they be found guilty of being involved in causing the haze, regardless whether the company originated locally or abroad.

He added that corporations that are proven to be guilty cannot escape sanctions, as the Director-General of KLHK’s law enforcement department has the authority to obtain evidence pertaining to the location, time and area of ​​the open burning via forensic means.

“They won’t be able to run,” said Rasio.

Consequently, KLHK’s law enforcement seeks to create and impose additional penalties against companies, such as depriving them of profits as a result of their involvement in starting the forest fires to clear land for palm oil agriculture.

Rasio also urged Indonesia’s regional and district governments to routinely supervise corporations that have been granted licenses to carry out agricultural works.

He added that administrative sanctions should also be imposed urgently, as it is the fastest authoritative mechanism in dealing with the problem of forest fires compared to time-consuming civil and criminal instruments via the courts.

“We need to push the scale of administrative action against the licensing officials. They can stop activities of [errant] companies, as well as order the suspension of licences and even revoke said licences,” Rasio said.

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