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Indonesia indicates it will accept Singapore’s offer to help fight haze

SINGAPORE — Indonesia has indicated it will now take up Singapore’s offer to help fight the ongoing haze, Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said on Facebook today (Oct 7).

Indonesia indicates it will accept Singapore’s offer to help fight haze

Indonesian police spray water on a peatland fire in Kampar, Riau province on the Indonesian island of Sumatra September 20, 2015 in this photo taken by Antara Foto. Photo: Reuters

SINGAPORE — Indonesia has indicated it will now take up Singapore’s offer to help fight the ongoing haze, Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said on Facebook today (Oct 7).

Jakarta had declined Singapore’s assistance package several times since the smog descended last month, saying it has the resources to manage.

But Dr Balakrishnan wrote last night that his Indonesian counterpart Retno Marsudi has now indicated Jakarta will take up the offer following a “good discussion” the pair had this evening. “Good for our countries to work together to resolve this as soon as possible,” he added.

Singapore’s assistance package includes assets and personnel, such as a C-130 aircraft for cloud-seeding operations, a Chinook helicopter with a water bucket for aerial fire-fighting, and up to two C-130 aircraft to ferry the Singapore Civil Defence Force fire-fighting assistance team. In addition, Singapore also offered to provide high-resolution satellite pictures and hotspot coordinates.

Earlier in the day, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said in a statement that the Indonesian government had yet to turn over the names of errant companies suspected of playing a part in causing the haze that has plagued Singapore since last month. 

A formal request for the names of these companies was sent to the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia in Singapore, the ministry added.

“This was in response to the request by the Indonesian Environment and Forestry Minister, Ms Siti Nurbaya Bakar, who had previously said that if Singapore wanted the names of these companies to be officially sent to it, then this had to be done through the Government-to-Government channel,” an MFA spokesperson said. 

“We look forward to an early response from the Government of the Republic of Indonesia on our requests so that we can take the necessary action against those who are responsible for the haze.” In its note to the Indonesia embassy, Singapore also reiterated its haze assistance.

Air quality and visibility improved significantly today, thanks to rain in the early morning. As at 7pm, the 24-hour Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) reading was 86 to 108, the three-hour PSI was 70 and the one-hour PM2.5 concentration was 22 to 41 microgrammes per cubic metre.

The NEA said prevailing winds are forecast to be weak and to blow from the east or southeast tomorrow, and the 24-hour PSI is expected to improve to the moderate range.

Eight hotspots were detected in Sumatra today, and the NEA attributed the low hotspot count to partial satellite pass, when the orbiting satellite’s field of view covers just part of a region of interest. The agency added that widespread haze continues to persist in parts of Sumatra, and some haze spreading westward from Kalimantan was observed over the sea at the far south of Singapore.

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