KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 19 – About 10,000 people have signed an online petition to hold the Malaysian and Indonesian governments accountable for the yearly haze crisis over the past two decades.
Started by a Sidneswaran Paramaswaran from Kota Kinabalu, the petition targets seven ministers from both countries, including Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Indonesian president Joko Widodo.
“By signing this petition, we demand to hold the Indonesian and Malaysian government accountable for their actions, or inactions, in response to the yearly haze crisis and environmental crisis which have plagued Indonesia and Malaysia for over 20 years, caused by irresponsible land clearing practices by plantation owners, big and small, who conduct open burning of the forests in Indonesia and Malaysia,” the petition said.
“It is the responsibility of both the Indonesian and Malaysian government to prioritise its citizens instead of defending billion dollar corporations that have held no accountability for committing crimes against the people and the environment.”
The petition demanded that the Malaysian government conduct a thorough open investigation on the four Malaysian companies that Indonesian Environment Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar had accused of deliberately carrying out open burning to clear land for palm oil plantations — Sime Darby Plantation, IOI Corporation, TDM Bhd, and Kuala Lumpur Kepong Group.
The petition also asked the Indonesian and Malaysian governments to investigate and publicly list all 29 companies and its directors who are involved in the open burning of forests to clear land for plantations.
If found guilty, actions are requested to be taken on these companies.
Petitioners also called for a joint investigation by the Malaysian and Indonesian governments to publicly list the causes of forest fires for land clearing in Kalimantan, Sumatera and Sarawak as of this month, amid the current haze.
Other than that, the petition has demanded that the Indonesian and Malaysian governments ban open burning “slash and burn” practices to clear land for plantations, as well as ensure that land clearing for plantations is done in sustainable ways. Both governments should also enact and enforce laws prohibiting forest reserve land from being cleared for plantations.
“By signing this petition, we demand that this issue be included in the next general elections manifesto, that the Indonesian and Malaysian governments respectively be held responsible in dealing with the haze crisis due to forest fires in Indonesia and Malaysia caused by open burning to clear land for plantations,” the petition said.
Started two days ago with an aim for 1,000 signatures, the petition has garnered 10,003 signatures at the time of writing.