The government has decided not to introduce a Transboundary Haze Act and will deal with the matter in a “diplomatic way”, Environment and Water Minister Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man told the Dewan Rakyat today.
He said executing legislation involving a neighbouring country could be fraught with security concerns as it would need foreign intervention and the retrieval of sensitive data.
“Although there is a need for such a law, it is easier for us to take the approach of negotiating with our neighbours,” he said.
Tuan Man was responding to Yeo Bee Yin (Bakri-PH) on the need to introduce such an act to stop local corporations operating in countries such as Indonesia from being a part of open burning activities that contribute to the yearly haze.
Even if Malaysia comes up with such a law, Tuan Ibrahim said, there will be challenges, notably in acquiring data and information from other countries.
“That is why we have taken the approach to meet, negotiate and resolve (the problem) together. The haze doesn’t only involve Indonesia,” he said.
“We have to also maintain our relationship with other Asean countries. I feel this approach is far more harmonious than enacting a law that cannot be implemented.”
Yeo then suggested that local enterprises engaged in the plantation industry in other countries give satellite positions in order to pinpoint the source of forest fires that cause the haze.
She said the proposed legislation would require these businesses to produce reports on the foreign land parcels they want to buy and whether they had a history of slash-and-burn activities.
She said rather than only enforcing the law, the act would attempt to make local businesses take greater responsibility for their conduct.
Tuan Ibrahim responded by saying that many peatlands in Malaysia have a similar tendency to catch fire.
He added that Putrajaya is committed to a diplomatic approach to the haze problem.
Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim (Port Dickson-PH), had previously raised a similar argument, requesting the government to implement a regulation requiring firms that contribute to the haze to compensate impacted Malaysians.
Under the former Pakatan Harapan government, a Transboundary Haze Pollution Act was proposed, although the idea was abandoned following the change of administration in 2020. – TMI