Indonesia has ordered four companies to suspend operations for allegedly causing forest fires that have sent smoke across a swathe of Southeast Asia, an environment ministry official said yesterday.
Indonesia has launched investigations against more than 200 companies as it scrambles to bring the fires on Sumatra and Kalimantan under control by the end of November, amid complaints from Singapore and Malaysia.
Previous government efforts to halt the seasonal slash-and-burn practices have failed to tackle the problem due to a lack of policy coordination and legal wrangling that can take years to resolve.
“These suspensions will be in effect until the criminal proceedings undertaken by the police are finished,” Indonesian Ministry of Environment and Forestry Secretary-General Bambang Hendroyono said.
Three plantation companies have had their permits frozen and one forestry company has had its license revoked, he added.
All four firms are Indonesian-owned, including plantation company PT Langgam Inti Hibrindo, which is owned by small listed firm PT Provident Agro.
Last week, police named an official overseeing operations at Langgam Inti Hibrido as a suspect for allegedly starting fires on the company’s land.
The firm could not be reached for comment and Provident Agro did not immediately respond to an e-mailed request for comment.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo has ordered thousands of security personnel backed by helicopters to help fight the fires, and has threatened to revoke land permits from firms found responsible.
Thick smoke has blanketed the region in recent weeks, pushing pollution levels to unhealthy levels.
EVOLVING SITUATION: Of the latest cases, 23 percent were found to be asymptomatic, but the coronavirus strain in Da Nang is more contagious, authorities said A COVID-19 outbreak that began in the Vietnamese city of Da Nang more than a week ago has spread to at least four city factories with a combined workforce of about 3,700, state media reported yesterday. Four cases were found at the plants in different industrial parks in the central city that collectively employ 77,000 people, the Lao Dong newspaper said. Vietnam, praised widely for its decisive measures to combat the novel coronavirus since it first appeared in late January, is battling new clusters of infection having gone for more than three months without detecting any domestic transmissions. Authorities yesterday reported one new
WARNINGS OVER COMPLACENCY: The curves of new infections in numerous countries is climbing, while others see the the first new infections in months Spikes in COVID-19 infections in Asia have dispelled any notion that the region might be over the worst, with Australia and India yesterday reporting record daily infections, Vietnam fretting over a new surge and North Korea urging vigilance. Asian nations had largely prided themselves on rapidly containing initial outbreaks after the coronavirus emerged in central China late last year, but flare-ups this month have shown the danger of complacency. “We’ve got to be careful not to slip into some idea that there’s some golden immunity that Australia has in relation to this virus,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters. Australia recorded its
‘COVIDIOTS’: Politicians condemned the protest that came amid surging infections in the country, while a marcher said government-induced fear weakened the body Loudly chanting their opposition to masks and vaccines, thousands of people on Saturday gathered in Berlin to protest against COVID-19 restrictions before being dispersed by police. Police put turnout at about 20,000 — well below the 500,000 organizers had announced as they urged a “day of freedom” from months of virus curbs. Despite Germany’s comparatively low toll, authorities are concerned at a rise in infections over the past few weeks and politicians took to social media to criticize the rally as irresponsible. “We are the second wave,” shouted the crowd, a mixture of hard left and right and conspiracy theorists, as they converged
The Australian government yesterday said that it plans to give Google and Facebook three months to negotiate with media businesses fair pay for news content. In releasing a draft of a mandatory code of conduct, Canberra aims to succeed where other nations have failed in making tech firms pay for news siphoned from commercial media companies. Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said that Google and Facebook would be the first platforms targeted by the proposed legislation, but others could follow. “It’s about a fair go for Australian news media businesses, it’s about ensuring that we have increased competition, increased consumer protection and a sustainable