Deputy minister moots Malaysia-Indonesia lawmakers’ caucus on transnational haze

Bukit Katil MP Datuk Seri Shamsul Iskandar Mohd Akin is pictured in Parliament October 16, 2019. — Picture by Firdaus Latif
Bukit Katil MP Datuk Seri Shamsul Iskandar Mohd Akin is pictured in Parliament October 16, 2019. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 16 — A deputy minister proposed in Dewan Rakyat today a joint caucus between the Malaysian and Indonesian Parliaments to seek solutions to the annual transboundary haze.

Primary Industries Deputy Minister Datuk Seri Shamsul Iskandar Mohd Akin made his suggestion in reply to an additional question by Batang Sadong MP (BN) Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri who asked about the government’s efforts to resolve the annual problem.

“I would like to propose to this House that we should establish a joint caucus between the members of the Indonesian and Malaysian Parliament in the future to find a solution (to the haze problem) as a joint initiative,” said Shamsul Iskandar during Question Time today.

He also told the Lower House that the issue of transboundary haze will also be raised during the Council of Palm Oil Producing Countries (CPOPC) conference in Bandar Baru Bangi on October 22.

Earlier, he asserted that Malaysian companies did not conduct any slash and burn practices or open burning in Indonesia that had caused the recent haze.

Instead, he said those responsible for the activity were Indonesian smallholders near Malaysian palm oil estates.

“In the (Indonesian) legal context, even though our companies were given vast tracts of land, there were pockets of smallholders that could not be evicted from the palm oil plantations. When they conduct slash and burn, it becomes a challenge for Malaysian companies,” he said.

“There was no evidence that our companies conducted open burning. It was started by Indonesian smallholders and the fire spread out of control to our plantations due to the hot weather and wind factor.

“Our companies who were accused by the Indonesian government are certified under the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MPSO), Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO) and the internationally acknowledged Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil,” Shamsul Iskandar said.

He added that when the Indonesian government issued an open statement blaming palm oil companies, Malaysian companies immediately issued a press statement condemning the act and denying their involvement.

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