The illegal blazes in Indonesia have sent smog floating over the region in recent weeks, causing thousands to fall ill, worsening air quality and reducing visibility in the archipelago, as well as in neighbouring Singapore and Malaysia. Photo: AFP/Adek Berry
While it seems our politicians (including Vice President Jusuf Kalla and the president’s Chief of Staff Teten Masduki) have resorted to nothing but petty finger pointing in regards to the annual haze crisis, President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) has now come forward with a plan and timeline by which Indonesia can solve the haze problem once and for all.
But that timeline, realistic though it may be, is sure to anger some people who want an immediate end to the environmental crisis.
In an interview with the BBC yesterday, President Jokowi said Indonesia is engaged in efforts to solve the haze issue, but that the country needs time to do so – specifically, three years.
“[The haze] is not a problem you can solve quickly,” Jokowi said.
“You will see the results soon and in three years we will have solved this.”
Jokowi added that Indonesia had already deployed 3,700 soldiers, 8,000 police officers and four water-bombing planes to put out the fires causing the haze in Sumatra and Borneo. For long-term prevention, authorities are also building water reserves near regular hotspots, while the government is making progress to enforce laws against forest burning.
The haze crisis has intensified over the past three weeks as illegal fires have cleared vast amounts of peat lands and forests, supposedly to make way for palm oil and pulp plantations. The fires created clouds of dense smog that has blanketed some regions of Indonesia and its neighbors in Singapore and Malaysia.
The toxic smoke from the latest haze crisis has caused massive health problems and political strife between Indonesia and its neighboring countries. Who’s to blame for the crisis? Well, it’s… complicated. To learn more, check out our documentary: