The Kuala Lumpur skyline is seen shrouded in haze on Sept 11, 2019 - Photo: AP

JAKARTA (TheInsiderStories) – Indonesia’ Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya has resisted accusations from Malaysia and Singapore that the haze affected them recently caused by forest fires in Indonesia. He asked the two countries to be objective in seeing the issue and not directly protest by closing information.

“I expressed an objection and have asked the foreign ministry to submit the objection to the Malaysian ambassador in Jakarta to be forwarded to his minister. So, I think that the data is correct. The Indonesian government has really systematically tried to resolve this as well as possible. Not all haze comes from the territory of Indonesia, “Nurbaya said in Jakarta, Wednesday (09/11).

Earlier this week, Malaysia and Singapore said fires in Indonesia were the root cause of haze in the airspace of the two countries, and that such fires needed to be extinguished immediately. On Wednesday, Malaysian Minister of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment, and Climate Change, Yeo Bee Yin also said his party would use all diplomatic channels to encourage immediate action on the Indonesian government.

“Let the data speak for itself. Data from Asean Specialised Meteorological Centre (ASMC) clearly shows that the neighboring country is responsible for the current haze in Malaysia. Minister Siti Nurbaya should not be in denial,” she said in a statement posted on Facebook yesterday.

Yeo also included a link to the ASMC where the latest data shows that the total number of hotspots in Indonesia’s Kalimantan and Sumatera are 474 and 387, respectively, a huge contrast to the latest number of just seven hotspots in Malaysia.

“The latest data on the total number of hotspots recorded by ASMC: Kalimantan (474), Sumatera (387) vs Malaysia (7). As for her claim that the haze is from Sarawak, just look at the wind direction. How is it logically possible” she asked.

Nurbaya, however, asked the Malaysian government to disclose real information regarding the haze. Satellite images prove that the haze that affected Malaysia late last week did not originate from Indonesia, she stated.

“There is information that he did not open, because actually the haze coming into Kuala Lumpur, it was from Sarawak and then from the Malay Peninsula, and maybe also part of West Kalimantan. The Malaysian government should have objectively explained it,” she said.

Citing the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (MCGA) data, the minister said the satellite images also showed an increase in the number of active fires in the region, mainly in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Vietnam.

“Based on images from the Himawari-8 satellite and a Geohotspot analysis by the MCGA, smoke on the Malaysian Peninsula on Sept. 5-7 came from local fires,” she said.

Images from the Himawari-8 and Sentinel satellites also showed an increase in the number of fires in early September did not occur in Indonesia, but on the Malaysian Peninsula and in Vietnam, and that this had been responsible for the recent haze.

The minister said strong winds prevented haze from Indonesia reaching Malaysia.

“Haze from Sumatra did not cross the Malacca Strait, as it was blocked by strong winds,” she said, adding that haze from Malaysia’s Sarawak and Indonesia’s West Kalimantan – both on Borneo Island – was pushed out over the South China Sea.

Nurbaya also regretted the attitude of Singapore which said there was smoke from Riau to Singapore. In fact, he said, the hotspots in Riau had gone down.

“Not true, there is from Riau crossing to Singapore. Hotspots in Riau have gone down. We have 46 helicopters working in the field,” she says, adding that at present there is no transboundary haze or cross-border haze.

“The highest haze peak occurred on September 8 morning, but only happened for an hour because the wind moved to the Northwest. From Kalimantan and Sarawak, West Kalimantan, Sarawak and Peninsular Malaysia. So don’t say just from Indonesia, you know,” she noted.

The minister also said that she had reported to President Joko Widodo, Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Wiranto regarding this matter, and had conducted a briefing with MCGA.

According to her, Indonesia already has a systematic pattern in monitoring forest areas that have the potential for hotspots. If there is a fire, then all stakeholders, the community all work together to put out the fire.

“We currently have 46 helicopters in charge of extinction. His position is 17 helicopters in Riau, 11 in South Sumatra and seven helicopters in Central and West Kalimantan each. Handling continues to be fluctuating,” she ended.

Written by Lexy Nantu, Email: