Media Interview: The Malay Mail

You can read the full article here.

  1. How do you think Malaysia should use this as a means to pressure Indonesia into working out a feasible, long-term solution to the haze problem?
    Actually, there is not much Malaysia can do as Chair. Indonesia has just recently continued to delay the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between Malaysia and Indonesia to cooperate over haze matters. This shows that Malaysia in the Chair’s seat does not actually change any of the relationship dynamic of the two countries over the haze. The most that Malaysia could do as Chair is probably to push for more regular meetings on haze. However, whether more pressure can be placed on Indonesia during the meetings, this is unlikely. The original tenets of ASEAN still stand – non-interference above all. Even with Indonesia ratifying the legally-binding ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze in 2014, nothing much has actually changed because the agreement does not come with any enforcement or punishment mechanisms. To be fair, we must also remember that several of the companies implicated in haze-producing fires in Indonesia have been Malaysian companies. Perhaps Malaysia could take on the challenge and lead by example by coming down hard on their companies involved in burning in Indonesia. Hopefully, if and when Indonesia sees genuine efforts from malaysia on this front, this may provide the impetus Indoensia needs on their side.
  2. Any there any similar cases in other countries in which Malaysia can use as an example?

    For similar cases, Malaysia and ASEAN can look to the EU and how the region manages transboundary pollution. A famous example, that is often contrasted against our haze, is acid rain in Europe. Italso involved pollution that is emitted from one country but affects other countries across borders. The EU also had legally binding conventions to manage the issue, however the difference was in the existence of enforcement mechanisms. Today, acid rain is greatly reduced in Europe. ASEAN has gone far from their early days, as now they have legally binding agreements, but ASEAN still needs to go one step further to also have the mechanisms in place to ensure that ratifying states bear real responsibility to enforce their commitments.

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