Friday, 21 August 2009

RI says it can handle forest fires alone

Ary Hermawan , The Jakarta Post , Jakarta | Thu, 08/20/2009

Indonesian officials denied Thursday they were ignoring international offers to help combat increasing haze problems from forest fires in the region, claiming they would welcome any form of assistance other than manpower to tackle widespread blazes in the eastern part of the archipelago.

Masnellyarti Hilman, deputy for environmental damage control at the State Ministry for the Environment, said Indonesia was still capable of tackling the forest fires on its own.

“If we can deal with it on our own, why do we need to seek help from others?” she said.

Reuters reported Wednesday that Indonesia, home to the world’s second-largest area of rainforest, had ‘appeared to bat away’ offers from Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei to help deal with the haze problem.

Environment Minister Rachmat Witoelar, who held a press conference after attending a ministerial meeting in Singapore, seeming to evade questions from journalists on the matter.

He did not pick up his mobile phone when contacted for comment Thursday.

Masnelliyarti said Indonesia had asked its neighboring countries to provide water-bombing facilities, not fire-fighters, to help with the blazes.