Southeast Asia agrees to adopt haze monitoring system

2013-10-09 14:50
Air pollution

Air pollution

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Bandar Seri Begawan - Southeast Asian nations agreed on Wednesday to adopt a new system to improve monitoring of smog caused by fires, an attempt to make plantation companies more accountable following the region's worst air pollution crisis in 16 years.

Thick haze, mostly from land-clearing fires in Indonesia, blanketed Singapore and swathes of neighbouring Malaysia earlier this year, stoking diplomatic tensions as air pollution climbed to the most hazardous levels since a similar crisis in 1997.

The 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), which began a two-day regional summit in Brunei on Wednesday, has been criticised in the past for not taking stronger action to prevent the chronic pollution problem.

Even with improved monitoring, critics say the region lacks the legal mechanisms or strong institutions to enforce compliance.

"Asean leaders have approved the Haze Monitoring System. We hope the respective ministries will upload the digitised concession maps as soon as possible," Singapore's environment minister, Vivian Balakrishnan, wrote on his official Facebook page.

Satellite data

"It will send a strong signal to all companies that they will be held accountable."

Under the Singapore-developed system, governments in the region will share satellite data to pinpoint fires and identify companies, most of them palm-oil producers that own the affected land.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono issued an apology in June for the haze, and his government pledged to ratify a 2002 Asean agreement aimed at combating air pollution from fires.

Indonesian investigators said in June they were building criminal cases against eight Southeast Asian companies suspected of being responsible for this year's fires, which raised concern over public health and hurt tourism in Singapore and Malaysia.

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was quoted by the Singapore Straits Times as saying Wednesday's agreement was a "concrete example" of Asean co-operation.

"You need data on who owns which piece of land so that we can put the maps together with the satellite photos and we can make information available," said Lee.
Read more on:    environment  |  pollution

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.