Industry minister boycotts RI-Singapore meeting

Jakarta (Antara News) - Industry Minister Fahmi Idris boycotted a meeting of the Indonesia-Singapore joint steering committee on the further implementation of Batam, Bintan and Karimun special economic zones here on Friday.

The boycott on the third meeting of the joint steering committee marked a protest against Singapore`s step to discredit Indonesia at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in connection with the spread of haze coming from forest and bush fires in several provinces in Indonesia.

"I did not attend the meeting in protest at Singapore`s step to table the haze issue at the UNGA, though previously Singapore has agreed to tackle the problem at ASEAN level", he disclosed here Friday.

With the absence of the industry minister in the meeting, Indonesia was represented by Coordinating Minister of the Economy Budiono, Trade Minister Marie E.Pangestu, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati, Manpower Minister Erman Suparno and Head of the Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) M.Lutfi.

Fahmi said that by bringing the haze issue before the UNGA on October 20, 2006, Singapore has shown rather exaggerated attitude, without thinking of the spirit of cooperation between ASEAN member countries.

Previously, at a meeting in Pekanbaru on October 13, 2006, ASEAN member countries hit by the haze from the forest fires in Indonesia, agreed to cooperate in fighting the forest fires by leasing Russian planes in eliminating hotspots at a total cost of approximately Rp100 billion.

The readiness to lease fire extinguishing planes at a high cost in Indonesian standards, indicates the seriousness of the Indonesian government in overcoming the forest and bush fires, Fahmi said.

"As a cabinet minister, I also feel offended by Singapore`s statement at the UNGA that the President and his ministers, the House of Representatives (DPR) and the provincial administrations are not solid in tackling the spread of the haze," he said.

Singapore has taken an unethical action by discrediting Indonesia, Fahmi said, adding that he has sent a letter in English to Coordinating Minister of the Economy about his absence at the meeting, with copies addressed to Foreign Minister Hassan Wirayudha, Cabinet Secretary Sudi Silalahi, the chairman of the Singaporean delegation, the Singapore embassy in Jakarta and to other members of the Joint Steering Committee.(*)
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