Malaysian government asks firms to control fires abroad

VNA
Malaysia may have to pass a law forcing its companies to tackle fires on land they control abroad, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on September 18 as forest fires in Indonesia spread haze across the region.

Smoke from a forest fire in Riau, Indonesia (Photo: Xinhua/VNA)

Smoke from a forest fire in Riau, Indonesia (Photo: Xinhua/VNA)

Last week, Indonesian Minister of Environment and Forestry Siti Nurbaya Bakar said that some of the fires in the country had been spotted on palm oil plantations operated by at least four subsidiaries of Malaysian companies.
The smoke from forest fires in Indonesia has been particularly bad over recent weeks leading to accusations and angry responses among the neighbours.
Previously, two of the Malaysian companies identified by the Indonesian minister said they had small fires on their land but they had been extinguished.
The Malaysia PM said his government would call on the Malaysian companies to put out the fires.
If they are unwilling to take action, the Malaysian government may have to pass a law which will make them responsible for fires in their property, even if outside of Malaysia, Mahathir added.
Forest fires often occur in Indonesia as growers use fire to clear land for palm oil, paper plantations and other crops. But the fires often rage out of control especially during the dry season.
The Air Pollution Index (API) in Malay Peninsula, east of Indonesia’s Sumatra island, has reached unhealthy level. Thousands of schools in Malaysia has been forced to close due to poor air quality, mainly in Selangor and Sarawak states, blamed on smoke drifting in from forest fires in neighbouring Indonesia.

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