Indonesian President apologises to Singapore and Malaysia for pollution

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 25 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 25 June, 2013, 5:21am

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono apologised yesterday to Singapore and Malaysia for the record-setting pollution caused by forest fires in his country.

"For what is happening, as the president, I apologise to our brothers in Singapore and Malaysia," Yudhoyono said.

He asked for their understanding and said Indonesia was battling to put out the fires, often set by farmers to clear fields.

After a Cabinet meeting to discuss the issue, Yudhoyono said he had ordered an inquiry.

"There should be a thorough investigation. In my analysis, there are both natural and human factors," he said, adding that the wind direction caused the smoke to concentrate in Malaysia and Singapore.

Malaysia called for a meeting of Southeast Asian ministers as early as next week about the haze.

"Malaysian laws cannot be applied in Indonesia," G. Palanivel, Malaysia's Minister for Natural Resources and Environment, said. "It is for them to stop this and take action and not us."

Malaysia is offering to host a meeting of the sub-regional ministerial steering committee on trans-boundary haze in Kuala Lumpur next week, Palanivel said, adding Singapore was supportive of such a summit.

Associated Press, Bloomberg