Are Singapore Companies Complicit in the Indonesian Haze?
MFA finally officially sought clarification about the accusation that Singapore companies were behind the haze. MFA’s specific queries were:
(i) seeking clarification on statements by Indonesian Ministers and officials on the issue of Singapore-linked companies said to be involved in illegal land clearing practices in Indonesia; and
(ii) asking Indonesia to assist by handing over relevant evidence.
Will Singapore get the answers it wants, or rather the answers it wants to hear? At stake now is whether Indonesia made wild accusations about Singapore, or that Singapore tried to cover up the deforestation by Singapore companies in Indonesia. One party would be seen as a liar at worst, or at best totally clueless and shooting off it mouth, and thus shooting itself in the foot.
Singapore demanded that evidence is presented. It is now up to Indonesia to give satisfactory or shaky evidence if they decide to partake in the brinkmanship and give evidence at all. If Singapore companies are involved, the positive flip side is that they can be taken to task by the Singapore government. Despite the embarrassment to Singapore, at least something can be done to minimise the annual haze hazard in future. However, if Indonesian or other companies were behind the clearing of forests for plantations, then there is little Singapore can do besides shouting and blustering year after year if the Indonesia just sits back and twiddle its thumbs about the annual haze.