Cler­ics is­sue edict against for­est fires

The Myanmar Times - - World -

be against the law for any for­eign do­na­tion to be ac­cepted by any mem­ber of gov­ern­ment.”

China’s rise and its sweep­ing claims to the South China Sea have seen a dra­matic sharp­en­ing of Si­noUS ri­valry.

Aus­tralia has also be­come in­creas­ingly con­cerned about the pur­chase of do­mes­tic in­fra­struc­ture and land by for­eign­ers, and re­cently banned a sale of farm­land by the coun­try’s big­gest pri­vate landowner to a Chi­nese-led con­sor­tium.

How­ever, the gov­ern­ment’s first for­eign land reg­is­ter last week showed that Bri­tish and US in­vestors own far more agri­cul­tural land in Aus­tralia than Chi­nese na­tion­als or com­pa­nies do. – IN­DONE­SIA’S top Is­lamic re­li­gious body yes­ter­day is­sued a fatwa (edict) against in­ten­tion­ally start­ing for­est fires in a bid to stop the blazes that cloak the re­gion in haze ev­ery year.

The re­li­gious edict by the In­done­sian Ulama Coun­cil said it was haram, or against Is­lamic law, for Mus­lims to start fires on pur­pose in forests or on plan­ta­tion land.

“The Ko­ran states that we are not al­lowed to harm the en­vi­ron­ment, and for­est burn­ing causes dam­age not only to the en­vi­ron­ment but also to peo­ple’s health – even neigh­bour­ing coun­tries are com­plain­ing,” said Huza­emah Tahido Yanggo, head of the body’s fatwa coun­cil.

The fires and sub­se­quent smog oc­cur an­nu­ally to vary­ing de­grees in Su­ma­tra is­land and the In­done­sian part of Bor­neo dur­ing the dry sea­son, to clear land for palm oil and pulp­wood plan­ta­tions.

The blazes last year were among the worst in mem­ory and cloaked large parts of In­done­sia, Malaysia and Sin­ga­pore in chok­ing smog.

En­vi­ron­ment and Forestry Min­is­ter Siti Nur­baya Bakar wel­comed the edict. A fatwa has no le­gal force and is aimed at en­cour­ag­ing the de­vout against tak­ing a cer­tain course of ac­tion.

But it re­mained un­clear whether the lat­est edict would have any ef­fect in the sprawl­ing ar­chi­pel­ago of more than 17,000 is­lands and 255 mil­lion in­hab­i­tants.

The coun­cil had pre­vi­ously is­sued a fatwa to pro­tect the en­vi­ron­ment, in­clud­ing one against illegal hunt­ing and trade in en­dan­gered an­i­mals in the bio­di­verse coun­try, which en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists said was the world’s first.

Author­i­ties plan to stop grant­ing new land con­ces­sions for palm oil plan­ta­tions, and have es­tab­lished a new agency to re­store mil­lions of hectares of car­bon-rich peat­lands sus­cep­ti­ble to fires. –

Photo: AFP

This file photo shows smoke ris­ing from cleared forest­land in Pe­lalawan Re­gency, Riau prov­ince. In­done­sia’s top Is­lamic cler­i­cal body has is­sued a fatwa against in­ten­tion­ally start­ing for­est fires in a bid to stop the blazes that cloak Southeast Asia in haze ev­ery year.

Photo: AFP

Aus­tralian La­bor Party Se­na­tor Sam Dast­yari speaks to the me­dia in Syd­ney on Septem­ber 6 to make a pub­lic apol­ogy for ask­ing a com­pany with links to the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment to pay a US$1273 bill in­curred by his of­fice.

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