New haze monitoring system approved at ASEAN summit

A worker stands as he looks on at fire from burning trees planted for palm oil, during haze at Bangko Pusako district in Rokan Hilir, on Indonesia's Riau province, on June 24, 2013. Photo: Reuters
PM Lee welcomes adoption of system which will allow more efficient haze monitoring, tracking of those responsible for illegal burning
Published: 2:22 PM, October 9, 2013
Updated: 1:10 PM, October 10, 2013

BRUNEI — The Association of South-east Asian Nations (ASEAN) has adopted a new joint haze monitoring system, it was announced at the grouping’s regional summit in Brunei today (Oct 9).

Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan told reporters in Brunei this morning that the S$100,000 ASEAN Sub-Regional Haze Monitoring System will overlay land concession maps with high-resolution satellite images to allow authorities to identify those responsible for start forest fires to clear land illegally.

In his opening remarks at the ASEAN Summit opening session amongst the ten leaders of the grouping, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong welcomed the adoption of the Singapore-developed system.

He said that the approval of the system is a concrete example of cooperation among the members of the 10-nation regional bloc, adding that ASEAN’s addressing the haze issue collectively is a marker of its credibility.

Mr Lee also said that he looks forward to Indonesia ratifying the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution.

After the opening session, Mr Lee met with Malaysian Premier Najib Razak and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to discuss the ASEAN Haze Monitoring System. It is understood the meeting lasted about ten minutes.

Mr Lee said he thanked his Malaysian and Indonesian counterparts for their cooperation in the project and expressed Singapore’s willingness to work with them to implement the system and take the cooperation beyond the haze monitoring system.

This includes working with farmers to encourage them to work in a more sustainable and environmentally friendly way like how Singapore had worked with the Jambi province in the past, said Mr Lee, who added that Singapore was willing to go beyond Jambi to other provinces too.

Mr Lee, Dr Balakrishnan and Law Minister K Shanmugam are attending the 23rd ASEAN Summit and related meetings in Brunei today and tomorrow.