The Indonesian president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, has apologised to Singapore and Malaysia for record-setting pollution caused by forest fires in his country.
“For what is happening, as the president, I apologise to our brothers in Singapore and Malaysia,” Yudhoyono said. He asked for their understanding and said Indonesia was working hard to fight the fires which are often set by farmers to clear fields.
Jakarta has dispatched planes and helicopters to battle the blazes in peat swamp forests as well as plantations in Riau province on the island of Sumatra, where the smoke easily drifts across the sea to the two neighbouring countries.
Speaking at a news conference after a cabinet meeting to discuss the issue, Yudhoyono said he had ordered an investigation into the fires.
“There should be a thorough investigation. In my analysis, there are both natural and human factors,” he said, adding that the wind direction had caused the smoke to concentrate in Singapore and Malaysia.