Malaysian planter KLK confirms fire at land of unit named by Indonesia

Justin Ong
Indonesian firefighters battle a forest fire in Kampar, Riau September 9, 2019. — AFP pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 14 — Plantation conglomerate Kuala Lumpur Kepong (KLK) Bhd admitted today that open burning occurred on land belonging to an Indonesian subsidiary that was sealed off yesterday.

Jakarta specifically named PT Adei Plantation and Industry (PT Adei) as among 29 firms that it took action against for open burning that is suspected to be the cause of transboundary haze in the region.

“KLK regrettably confirms the occurrence of a hotspot area which affected 2.8 ha in the 14,400 ha estate managed by PT Adei and the hotspot occurred during an unusually acute dry spell where rain was recorded only 2 days out of the last 60 days. 

“This hotspot was successfully extinguished within the same day through the effort of our own 120 firefighting personnel aided by 11 excavators and Shihbaura pumps,” the firm said in a statement today.

It added that it has taken additional safeguards against further fires and pledged its subsidiary’s full support to investigations.

KLK then asserted that it was fully compliant with the Asean Policy on Zero Open Burning at all its properties.

Yesterday, Indonesia sealed off land at 29 plantations including several that it insists are Malaysian-owned, in a move motivated by its zeal to prove that Indonesia was not solely at fault for the crisis.

When announcing the action, Indonesia’s Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar specifically named KLK as the main shareholder of PT Adei whose land in Indonesia’s Riau province was among those sealed off.

Air pollution blamed on the haze has worsened in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore.

Three locations in Malaysia — Johan Setia in Selangor, Kuching in Sarawak, and Tangkak in Johor — all reported “very unhealthy” air quality readings today.

Parts of Kalimantan, the site of most of the fires, are suffering from extremely hazardous air pollution, with API readings in excess of 700 or over twice that necessary to trigger an environmental emergency in Malaysia.

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