Petaling Jaya - Malaysia will not provide physical assistance to Indonesia to prevent fires in the Riau province until a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) is signed with the Indonesian government.
It is understood that Malaysia had presented its proposal to help the Riau province during an Asean sub-regional ministerial steering committee meeting on trans-boundary haze pollution on June 20.
Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Azmi Khalid, however, said the MoU was a requirement by the Indonesian government before the proposal could be implemented.
“In the meantime, Malaysia is working with the Riau local government at the discussion and planning level – which is more about capacity-building of local communities,” Azmi said when contacted.
When asked how soon Malaysia would sign the MoU with Indonesia, Azmi said the Attorney-General had to agree with the draft.
It was reported in March that Singapore had “adopted” the Jambi province while Malaysia would “adopt” the Riau province to assist local authorities there to combat the haze.
Referring to the current spell of haze that has shrouded the country, Azmi said the fires were in Jambi and southern Sumatra, with a few in Riau.
“It is difficult to gauge what will happen next because the haze this year has started slightly later compared with last year due to the prolonged wet weather,” he said.
Source: www.thestaronline.com (4 Juli 2007)