Mon, 03 Oct 1994

Battling forest fires

As a neighbor to Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei Darussalam we must listen to and heed their grievances over the haze caused by the forest fires in Kalimantan and Sumatra. None of their complaints should be construed as interference in our domestic affairs.

We now face the task of convincing these neighbors that forest fires in areas where peat and coal deposits exist are very difficult to subdue. But, even so, there is no reason for us just to sit back and do nothing about them.

First, we have to educate the nomadic farmers to prevent them from staring fires for fear they may spread uncontrollably. This task can be undertaken by the ministries of forestry and transmigration.

Secondly, we can use the skills of the BPPT agency to create artificial rain and to convert domestically produced CN-215 into fire-fighting planes. This, obviously, requires a lot of funds, so cooperation with neighboring countries should be resorted to.

Singapore's offer of cooperation, as stated by visiting Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong is a good beginning.

-- Suara Pembaruan, Jakarta