With a surge in forest fires in Indonesia threatening a repeat of the deadly haze that blanketed much of Southeast Asia in 2015, President Joko Widodo said officials failing to tackle the menace will be fired.
Jokowi, as Widodo is commonly known, said he’s alarmed by the increase in the number of so-called hotspots this year though it’s significantly down from 2015 when a total of 2.6 million hectares of land was affected, costing the country 221 trillion rupiah ($15.5 billion) in economic losses. The military, police, disaster mitigation agency and others should focus on prevention and early detection of fires to curb them, he told a meeting in Jakarta on Tuesday.
“We’ll be ashamed of facing other countries if we cannot solve the smoke problem,” Jokowi said. “I have told the military and police chiefs to fire whoever fails to tackle the forest and land fires. Don’t underestimate hot spots, just extinguish them, don’t wait until they get big.”