The Indonesian government is open to help from any country, including Singapore, if they wish to assist in fighting the forest fires that are causing the haze in the region, Indonesian Vice-President Jusuf Kalla said on Sunday (Sep 27).
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit in New York, Mr Kalla said the Indonesian government has noted Singapore’s protests against the haze.
"Please come, we are open. Singapore can see for itself. Singapore, please come if you want to help. Don't just talk," local news agency Antara News quoted Mr Kalla as saying.
Mr Kalla said Indonesia has explained that it is working hard to put out the forest fires, but it is difficult to solve the problem within a short period of time.
"The forest fires in Indonesia are helped by the dry weather and winds," he said.
This is not the first time Mr Kalla is inviting Singapore to help. On Sep 15, he appealed to Singapore through local media to help fight the fires, and was quoted as saying: “Singapore, please come. Singapore also knows that the natural disaster can happen anywhere.”
The Singapore Armed Forces had offered to send C-130s for cloud seeding and Chinooks to carry large water buckets to douse the fires.
However, Indonesia's Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar has declined Singapore's assistance, and said that her country is trying to handle the crisis on its own. Foreign Affairs Minister Retno Marsudi also said that she has spoken with her Singaporean counterpart to explain the steps that Jakarta has taken.
"Indonesia is very serious about resolving the fires, and this will be complemented with law enforcement and education," said Ms Retno.