Malaysia must prosecute and punish any Malaysian plantation companies who are involved in the outlawed Slash-and-Burn methods of clearing land

Indonesian Environment Minister Balthasar Kambuaya's claims that eight companies with Malaysian ownership were contributing to the haze pollution by using the cheap but outlawed slash-and-burn methods to clear land for their plantations must be fully verified. If true, not just Indonesia but Malaysia too must prosecute and punish any Malaysian plantation companies who are proven to be involved in the outlawed slash-and-burn methods of clearing land for their plantations in Sumatera.

Balthasar said that the allegations will be followed up by Riau Police. One of the alleged offenders is PT Tunggal Mitra Plantation, a unit of Minamas Plantation, a subsidiary of Malaysia-based Sime Darby Plantations, one of the world's largest listed oil palm plantations. Another is PT Adei Plantation, owned by Kepong Berhad. The others are PT Langgam Inti Hibrida, PT Bumi Reksa Nusa Sejati, PT Udaya Loh Denawi, PT Jatim Jaya Perkasa, PT Multi Gambut Industri, and PT Mustika Agro Lestari.

Balthasar claimed that "the Malaysian plantation companies have often ordered local people to burn forest or peatland near their concessions, hoping that the fire will spread onto their land. Once the fire takes hold of their concessions, the companies shift the blame onto the local residents as if the fire had accidentally and spread to their land."

DAP notes that Sime Darby Plantations Bhd had issued a statement vehemently denying these allegations by the Indonesian government. DAP hopes that the Indonesian government is not trying to divert attention from their failure to prevent such open burning by Indonesian plantation companies and small-holders by pinning the blame solely on innocent Malaysian companies.

However this serious allegation against Sime Darby must be thoroughly investigated as Sime Darby is a Government-linked Corporation(GLC) owned by the Malaysian government. This serious allegation can adversely damage the international reputation of not just Sime Darby but also Malaysia.

Further if Malaysian plantations companies did indeed carry out such open burning and has caused the present haze crisis, this is an act of betrayal to Malaysians by destroying both the environment and forests as well as threatening the safety and health of Malaysians. The Malaysian government must send their own investigators to verify such claims, severely and sternly punish any Malaysian companies if they were so involved.

Lim Guan Eng DAP Secretary General & MP for Bagan