System to monitor joint haze
The adoption of the joint haze monitoring system at  Asean&’s Brunei summit last week marked an incremental but concrete step in the fight against the environmental scourge. Unlike periods of denial and acrimony in which some Indonesians pointed the finger at other countries over responsibility or took refuge in sovereignty, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has displayed leadership in supporting the system.
It will be possible now to track down culprits behind the annual air pollution that vitiates both the natural and the political atmosphere among countries in Southeast Asia.
Polluters, who took cover in the vast terrain in which they operate, are likely to be deterred by the reach and precision of the monitoring system. It employs high-resolution satellite images along with land use and concession maps to zoom in on those who burn land illegally. However, while this is a necessary step, it is not a sufficient one. Ministries and agencies will need to be forthcoming and share data for the system to function effectively. The sharing of concession maps has been hobbled by Malaysian and Indonesian reservations over making them available publicly. At the diplomatic level, the agreement reveals Asean&’s capacity to act on intra-mural problems, without which its stance on external issues would be weakened. the straits times