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  The Star 9 Feb 07
Bilateral talks on open burning

PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia and Indonesia will meet in May to talk about the practice of open burning in the republic, which has contributed to the yearly occurrence of haze.

Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Peter Chin Fah Kui said the meeting would be held in Jakarta this time.

"We have a joint committee between Indonesia and Malaysia on commodities that meets twice a year, the next of which will be in May," he told reporters after launching a seminar on the national policy on timber industry here yesterday.

"We are very mindful of the fact that drought has been forecast for Malaysia over the next few months and this can lead to the possibility of transboundary haze from the open burning in plantations in Indonesia."

"We hope that our exchanges will help reduce the instances of open burning." Chin said the meeting would also look into efforts to stem illegal logging and the importation of illegal logs from Indonesia.

On the allegation that Malaysian companies were behind the illegal logging activities in Indonesia, he said the Government was keen to ensure that all timber used in the local furniture industry was legally sourced.

"But because of our porous border, we must make more effort at joint enforcement," he said.

Earlier, Chin said it was important for the local furniture industry to look into a policy of sustaining itself, seeing that it would run into a shortage of resources without proper planning.

"As it is, the industry is facing a disjointed supply of rubber wood as most of the supply is in the northern region of Peninsula Malaysia while most of the furniture makers are concentrated in Johor," he said.

"We may also face a shortage in certain species of wood like meranti, which is heavily commercialised."

"The industry must look at what it can do to maintain its current level of production and ensure the efficient use of the resource." Chin said one solution was for furniture makers to base their manufacturing in Sabah and Sarawak, which still have ample logging resources.

Related articles on Singapore: Haze
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