Malaysia: Note to Indonesia is to offer assistance, not to protest

Zainal (Bernama)

Ambassador Zainal Abidin Bakar (Bernama)

Jakarta: Malaysian Ambassador to Indonesia Zainal Abidin Bakar stressed that Kuala Lumpur is not pointing fingers at Jakarta over the current haze problems.

Malaysia in fact is offering some forms of assistance in tackling the forest fires in several provinces in Indonesia, he said referring to a recent official letter from the Malaysian government through the Minister of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Yeo Bee Yin to the Indonesian government.

“It is not a protest letter, but (the letter) is of Malaysia’s intention to help dealing with haze (to fight fire at forest and agricultural areas in Indonesia),” he said, quoted by Malaysia’s national news agency BERNAMA.

The ambassador was commenting to reporters in the Indonesian capital following the 2019 Malaysia National Day reception last night on the statement issued by Indonesian Minister of Environment and Forestry, Siti Nurbaya Bakar in which he reportedly said that Malaysia had sent a protest letter accusing Indonesia of causing haze in Malaysia.

According to Siti Nurbaya, based on the report from the Indonesian Meteorological, Climatological, and Geophysical Agency (BMKG), smoke or haze from the fire in Kalimantan was detected to cross into Malaysia for only one hour on September 8.

“The smoke (haze) that entered Malaysia, to Kuala Lumpur, is from Sarawak and from Peninsular Malaysia, and perhaps from parts of west Kalimantan. So [Malaysia] should be objective in explaining it,” Siti Nurbaya said.

According to BERNAMA, Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said he had not received any protest letter from Malaysia on the matter.

“Thus far I have not received (a protest letter) (but) Minister Siti Nurbaya and the BMKG have issued a statement on this issue,” Retno was quoted as saying by local media.

More than 42,000 hectares of land (forest and plantation) have been burned since January, with hundreds of hectares reportedly still burning in some provinces in Indonesia, BERNAMA said.

More than 6,000 firefighters, also assisted by police and military personnel, have been deployed to put out the fire in several areas in Riau, Jambi, Pekanbaru and Kalimantan.

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