2016-05-22

Environment Minister follows up on promise to review bilateral cooperation with Singapore


JAKARTA (foresthints.news) - Following up on her promise to review all forms of bilateral cooperation with Singapore in the field of the environment and forestry, Indonesia's Minister of the Environment and Forestry, Siti Nurbaya, sent a radiogram dated 13 May 2016, classified as important and very urgent, to all of Indonesia’s governors requesting that they make an inventory of all forms of cooperation with Singapore in their respective province.

In the radiogram, the minister wrote that any direct collaborations between the Singaporean government and local governments in Indonesia in relation with environmental or forestry matters are to be terminated, as such collaborations must pass through the central government.

“The reason behind making these inventories is to evaluate how effective these collaborations being undertaken between local governments and Singapore in the field of the environment and forestry actually are. This includes looking at the benefits gained by the local governments as a result of the collaborations,” the minister told foresthints.news on Friday (May 20) in Jakarta.

The minister added that, over and above this, the review process will also cover a range of problems faced by local governments in implementing these bilateral collaborations, including those concerning the time span of such collaborations.

“The process of making an inventory of environment and forestry-related collaborations with Singapore in all Indonesian provinces will be completed by the end of May. Meanwhile, the review process into these collaborations at the central government level is ongoing. We hope that this can also be finalized by the end of May,” the minister explained.

According to the minister, the review process needs to be wrapped up as soon as possible so that any recommendations deriving from it can be acted on promptly.

She pointed out that the review process was an initiative of her ministry being conducted to strengthen the national position vis-à-vis a number of environment and forestry-based bilateral collaborations with Singapore.

The radiogram, which was also forwarded to several relevant ministries, stated that the review into collaborations with Singapore includes an evaluation of the targets to be achieved from these collaborations on a national development scale in the field of the environment and forestry.

“Of course, we will be following up on the outcome of the review and I will obviously first consult with a number of relevant ministers, most notably the minister of foreign affairs, before reporting the review conclusions to the President,” the minister added.

When asked about the opinion of the former Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court, Mahfud MD, as reported by Bisnis Indonesia daily (May 19), that Singapore only has the authority to shut down those companies involved in land and forest fires which are registered in Singapore itself, the minister simply smiled as she answered with an Indonesian saying: "Semut di seberang lautan tampak, Gajah di pelupuk mata tak tampak," (the faults of others are easier to see than our own faults), implying perhaps that Singapore needs to look at its own shortcomings before blaming others.

In concluding her interview with foresthints.news, the minister expressed confidence that the results of the review process would unquestionably make a significant contribution to a strengthening of bilateral relations with Singapore, leading to more productive and substantial bilateral cooperation in the field of the environment and forestry.