• How can our Natural Resources and Environment Minister be so ignorant about Singapore’s Transboundary Haze Pollution Act (THPA)?

    Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang, on the 6th of October

    How can our Natural Resources and Environment Minister be so ignorant about Singapore’s Transboundary Haze Pollution Act (THPA)?

    I was shocked to read a report by Bernama yesterday which quoted Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar as having said: “Singapore recently gazetted the Transboundary Haze Pollution Act adopted this year allowing them to take action such as summons on their own companies that caused haze. If (we have) jurisdiction through laws being drafted we can take action against all parties, whether they are from Malaysia, Indonesia or Singapore.”[1]

    He was also reported to have said that the laws which Malaysia will propose are different from the current laws in Singapore which allowed action to be taken only against Singaporean companies.

    I was hoping that the new Natural Resources and Environment Minister would prove to be a more capable replacement to his predecessor but it appears that I was mistaken.

    If the Minister had been reading the news, especially coming from the Singapore media, he would have realized that Singapore’s Transboundary Haze Pollution Act (THPA) allows the Singapore authorities to go after any companies which were responsible for contributing to the haze problem including non-Singaporean companies.

    I quote a press release by the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources (MEWR) on the 25th of September which stated the following[2]:

    “The Singapore Government has written to four Indonesian companies for contributing to haze pollution as provided for under the Transboundary Haze Pollution Act (THPA). Under the THPA, haze pollution is said to have occurred if the 24-hour PSI remains at 101 or higher for 24 continuous hours or longer. Haze pollution as prescribed under the THPA has occurred for four periods since 10 September 2015.

    From investigations so far, there are indications that the haze may have been contributed by fires in lands held via concessions under four Indonesian companies, namely:

    1. PT Rimba Hutani Mas;
    2. PT Sebangun Bumi Andalas Wood Industries;
    3. PT Bumi Sriwijaya Sentosa; and
    4. PT Wachyuni Mandira”

    While some of the shortcomings of the THPA have been highlighted including the low SGD$2million fine for companies, some of which have revenues in the billions of dollars, the fact is that this law allows the Singaporean authorities to go after companies in Indonesia for contributing to the haze.[3]

    If the Minister is ignorant about the parameters of Singapore’s landmark haze pollution act, one wonders what other shortcomings will be present in Malaysia’s own haze pollution act, if and when it is tabled in parliament?

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming
    Member of Parliament for Serdang

    [1] http://www.bernama.com/bernama/v8/ge/newsgeneral.php?id=1176890

    [2] http://www.gov.sg/news/content/singapore-sends-notices-to-four-indonesian-companies-and-seeks-information-from-singapore-listed-app#sthash.7Hymm1yS.dpuf

    [3] http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/sideviews/article/going-beyond-the-law-to-fight-transboundary-air-pollution-eugene-k.b.-tan

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