Preventing Dispute over Haze Through Regional and Local Governance

  • Helena VarkkeyEmail author


Fires and haze, originating mostly from Indonesia, have caused widespread air pollution across Southeast Asia, especially in Singapore and Malaysia. The region has been suffering from this transboundary pollution in varying intensities for more than three decades, and this has given rise to a conflicting situation between the haze-exporting state of Indonesia and the states that import haze. However, this has never grown into a full-blown interstate legal or political dispute situation. The reason why this interstate regional conflict has never escalated to a dispute is worth investigating. This chapter first contextualizes the fires and haze in Indonesia in the context of the globalization of the agribusiness sector, particularly palm oil. It then goes on to define the incompatibilities that exist between the different actors at the national and international level with regard to transboundary haze. This is followed by an investigation into how ideas of globalization and the ASEAN organization have been useful in managing these incompatibilities. The chapter then discusses how poor governance has nevertheless limited effective incompatibility management and has led to a potential legal dispute between Indonesia and Singapore. It concludes by highlighting ways in which good governance at both the national and regional level can play an important role in preventing this potential dispute from further escalation. A common theme throughout this chapter is the prevalence of patron-client relationships within the countries being discussed, which are useful in explaining national interests, incompatibilities and poor governance in the context of the haze.


Fires Haze Southeast Asia Conflict Dispute prevention Incompatibility management Globalization Good governance 


  1. Aggarwal, V. K., & Chow, J. T. (2010). The perils of consensus: How ASEAN’s meta-regime undermines economic and environmental cooperation. Review of International Political Economy, 17(2), 262–290.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Anderson, K. (2012). Globalization, WTO and ASEAN (Discussion Paper No. 0104). Adelaide: Centre for International Economic Studies.Google Scholar
  3. ASEAN Secretariat. (1976). Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia. Jakarta: ASEAN Secretariat.Google Scholar
  4. ASEAN Secretariat. (1995). ASEAN meeting on the management of transboundary pollution. Jakarta: ASEAN Secretariat.Google Scholar
  5. ASEAN Secretariat. (2002). ASEAN agreement on Transboundary haze pollution. Jakarta: ASEAN Secretariat.Google Scholar
  6. ASEAN Secretariat. (2008). Information on fire and haze. Paper presented at the HazeOnline. Jakarta: ASEAN Secretariat.Google Scholar
  7. Barber, C. V. (1998). Forest resource scarcity and social conflict in Indonesia. Environment, 40(4), 4–9.Google Scholar
  8. Basiron, Y., & Chan, K. W. (2004). The oil palm and its sustainability. Journal of Oil Palm Research, 16(1), 1–10.Google Scholar
  9. Beeson, M. (2007). Regionalism and globalization in East Asia: Politics, security and economic development. New York: Palgrave.Google Scholar
  10. Bernama. (2009, August 9). Malaysian seeks help of its oil palm planters in Riau to prevent haze.Google Scholar
  11. Boas, M. (2000). The trade-environment nexus and the potential of regional trade institutions. New Political Economy, 5(3), 415–432.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Boer, R., Nurrochmat, D. R., Ardiansyah, M., Hariyadi, Purwawangsa, H., & Ginting, G. (2012). Indonesia: Analysis of implementation and financing gaps. Project report. Bogor: Center for Climate Risk and Opportunity Management, Bogor Agricultural University.Google Scholar
  13. Bowen, R., Bompard, J. M., Anderson, I. P., Guizol, P., & Gouyon, A. (2001). Anthropogenic fires in Indonesia: A view from Sumatra. In P. Eaton & M. Radojevic (Eds.), Forest fires and haze in South East Asia (pp. 41–62). New York: Nova Science Publishers.Google Scholar
  14. Brinkerhoff, D. W., & Goldsmith, A. A. (2004). Good governance, clientelism, and patrimonialism: New perspectives on old problems. International Public Management Journal, 7(2), 163–185.Google Scholar
  15. Business Times. (1997, October 1). Govt yet to get financial aid pledged by 31 firms.Google Scholar
  16. Caballero-Anthony, M. (2005). Regional security in Southeast Asia: Beyond the ASEAN way. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Campbell, L. B. (2005). The political economy of environmental regionalism in Asia. In T. J. Pempel (Ed.), Remapping East Asia: The construction of a region (pp. 216–235). Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Caroko, W., Komarudin, H., Obidzinski, K., & Gunarso, P. (2011). Policy and institutional frameworks for the development of palm oil-based biodiesel in Indonesia (Working Paper). Jakarta: Center for International Forestry Research.Google Scholar
  19. Case, W. (2003). Interlocking elites in Southeast Asia. Comparative Sociology, 2(1), 249–267.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Casson, A. (2002). The political economy of Indonesia’s oil palm sector. In C. J. Colfer & I. A. P. Resosudarmo (Eds.), Which way forward? People, forests and policymaking in Indonesia (pp. 221–245). Singapore: Institute of South East Asian Studies.Google Scholar
  21. Chang, L. L., & Rajan, R. S. (2001). Regional versus multilateral solutions to transboundary environmental problems: Insights from the Southeast Asian haze. The World Economy, 24(5), 655–670.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Channel NewsAsia (2006, October 7). Haze worsens in Singapore, PSI hits new high for the year.Google Scholar
  23. Channel NewsAsia. (2016, June 15). Transboundary haze pollution act not about national sovereignty: MEWR.Google Scholar
  24. Cochrane, J. (2014, July 22). A child of the slum rises as President of Indonesia. The New York Times.Google Scholar
  25. Colfer, C. J. P. (2002). Ten propositions to explain Kalimantan’s fires. In C. J. Colfer & I. A. P. Resosudarmo (Eds.), Which way forward? People, forests and policymaking in Indonesia (pp. 309–321). Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.Google Scholar
  26. Collins, A. (2008). A people-oriented ASEAN: A door ajar or closed for civil society organizations? Contemporary Southeast Asia, 30(2), 313–331.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Cooke, F. M. (2002). Vulnerability, control and oil palm in Sarawak: Globalization and a new era? Development and Change, 33(2), 189–211.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Cotonou Agreement. (2000). Article 9(3) A. Countries.Google Scholar
  29. Cotton, J. (1999). The “haze” over Southeast Asia: Challenging the ASEAN mode of regional engagement. Pacific Affairs, 72(3), 331–351.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Das, N. (2014). Creating demand for sustainable palm oil through tariff policies in India and Indonesia. Oxford: Global Canopy Programme.Google Scholar
  31. Dauvergne, P. J. M. (1995). Shadows in the forest: Japan and the politics of timber in Southeast Asia. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  32. Dauvergne, P. (1998). The political economy of Indonesia’s 1997 forest fires. Australian Journal of International Affairs, 52(1), 13–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. De Pretto, L., Acreman, S., Ashfold, M. J., Mohankumar, S. K., & Campos-Arceiz, A. (2015). The link between knowledge, attitudes and practices in relation to atmospheric haze pollution in Peninsular Malaysia. PLoS One, 1–18.Google Scholar
  34. Dennis, R. (1999). A review of fire projects in Indonesia. Bogor: Center for International Forestry Research.Google Scholar
  35. Di, S. (2011). Export tax shield. Indo Plantations Sector Outlook. Jakarta: CLSA Asia Pacific Markets.Google Scholar
  36. Diez, T., & Huysmans, J. (2007). Securitizations and desecuritizations: The politics of exception and the politics of unease. Birmingham: University of Birmingham.Google Scholar
  37. Duncan, C. R. (2007). Mixed outcomes: The impact of regional autonomy and decentralization on indigenous ethnic minorities in Indonesia. Development and Change, 438(4), 711–733.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Eaton, P., & Radojevic, R. (2001). Forest fires and regional haze in Southeast Asia. New York: Nova Science Publishers.Google Scholar
  39. Eisenstadt, S. N., & Roniger, L. (1995). Patron-client relations as a model of structuring social exchange. In S. N. Eisenstadt (Ed.), Power, trust, and meaning: Essays in sociological theory and analysis (pp. 202–238). Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  40. Elliott, L. (2003). ASEAN and environmental cooperation: Norms, interests and identity. The Pacific Review, 16(1), 29–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Enderwick, P. (2005). What’s bad about crony capitalism? Asian Business & Management, 4(2), 117–132.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Feng, Z. (2014, April 4). Indonesia unlikely to share maps for haze monitoring soon. AsiaOne.Google Scholar
  43. Ferguson, R. J. (2004). ASEAN Concord II: Policy prospects for participant regional “development”. Contemporary Southeast Asia, 26(3), 393–415.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Garcia-Guadilla, M. P. (2002). Democracy, decentralization, and clientelism: New relationships and old practises. Latin American Perspectives, 29(5), 90–109.Google Scholar
  45. Gellert, P. K. (1998). A brief history and analysis of Indonesia’s forest fire crisis. Indonesia, 63–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Gellert, P. K. (2005). The shifting natures of “development”: Growth, crisis and recovery in Indonesia’s forests. World Development, 33(8), 1345–1364.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Government Gazette (2014). Transboundary Haze Pollution Act 2014. Acts Supplement No. 24 of 2014. Singapore: Republic of Singapore.Google Scholar
  48. Grant, J., & Bland, B. (2014, February 19). Singapore widens battle against toxic haze from forest fires. Financial Times.Google Scholar
  49. Grimberg, A. C. (2015). Specific features if the settlement of disputes among states within international economic organizations: Legal means of peaceful settlement of disputes. Law Review, II(2), 24–38.Google Scholar
  50. Gunes-Ayata, A. (1994). Clientelism: Premodern, modern, postmodern. In L. Roniger & A. Gunes-Ayata (Eds.), Democracy, clientelism, and civil society (pp. 19–26). London: Lynne Rienner Publishers.Google Scholar
  51. Hameiri, S., & Jones, L. (2013). The politics and governance of non-traditional security. International Studies Quarterly, 57(3), 462–473.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Harahap, R. (2013, July 2). 10,000 in Riau sick due to haze. Jakarta Post.Google Scholar
  53. Ismail, S. (2016a, May 16). Protest conveyed to Singapore environment minister: Indonesia. Channel NewsAsia.Google Scholar
  54. Ismail, S. (2016b, June 14). Singapore cannot enter Indonesia’s legal domain on forest fire issues: Forestry minister. Channel NewsAsia.Google Scholar
  55. Jakarta Post. (1994, October 3). Kalimantan, Sumatra forest fires turn into blaming game.Google Scholar
  56. Jakarta Post. (1998, February 16). Haze from forest fires blankets areas in Riau.Google Scholar
  57. Jakarta Post. (2005, August 13). Govt moves against firms responsible for forest fires.Google Scholar
  58. Jakarta Post. (2006a, November 2). Smothering Kalimantan waits for rains.Google Scholar
  59. Jakarta Post. (2006b, October 16). Stricter law urged to tackle haze.Google Scholar
  60. Jarvis, D., Richmond, N., Phua, K. H., Pocock, N., Sovacool, B. K., & D’agostino, A. (2010). Palm oil in Southeast Asia. Asian Trends Monitoring Bulletin.Google Scholar
  61. Jhamtani, H. (1998). Forest and land fires in Indonesia: An evaluation of factors and management efforts. International cross sectoral forum on forest fire management in South East Asia. Jakarta: National Development Planning Agency, Indonesia.Google Scholar
  62. Jones, D. S. (2006). ASEAN and transboundary haze pollution in Southeast Asia. Asia Europa Journal, 4(3), 431–446.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Jones, D. M., & Smith, M. L. R. (2002, January 1). ASEAN’s imitation community. Orbis.Google Scholar
  64. Khoo, N. (2004). Deconstructing the ASEAN security community: A review essay. International Relations of the Asia Pacific, 4(1), 35–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Kim, M. (2011). Theorizing ASEAN integration. Asian Perspectives, 35(3), 407–435.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Kivimaki, T. (2001). The long peace of ASEAN. The Journal of Peasant Studies, 38(1), 5–25.Google Scholar
  67. Kurer, O. (1996). The political foundations of economic development policies. Journal of Development Studies, 32(5), 645–668.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Lambin, E. F., & Meyfroidt, P. (2010). Global land use change, economic globalization, and the looming land scarcity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 108(9), 3465–3472.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Lande, C. H. (1983). Political clientelism in political studies: Retrospect and prospects. International Political Science Review, 4(4), 435–454.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Larson, A. M., & Soto, F. (2008). Decentralization of natural resources governance regimes. Annual Review of Environment and Resources, 33, 213–239.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Malaysian Palm Oil Council. (2006). Oil palm: Tree of life. Kuala Lumpur: Malaysian Palm Oil Council.Google Scholar
  72. Marlier, M. E., DeFries, R. S., Kim, P. A., Koplitz, S. N., Jacob, D. J., & Mickley, L. J. (2015). Fire emissions and regional air quality impacts from fires in oil palm, timber, and logging concessions in Indonesia. Environmental Research Letters, 10(8), 1–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Marti, S. (2008). Losing ground: The human impacts of palm oil expansion. London: Friends of the Earth.Google Scholar
  74. Maruli, A. (2011). Half of RI‘s oil palm plantations foreign-owned. Antara Magazine.Google Scholar
  75. Mayer, J. (2006). Transboundary perspectives on managing Indonesia’s fires. The Journal of Environment & Development, 15(2), 202–233.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. McCarthy, J., & Cramb, R. A. (2009). Policy narratives, landholder engagement, and oil palm expansion on the Malaysian and Indonesian frontiers. The Geographical Journal, 175(2), 112–123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. McCarthy, J., & Zen, Z. (2010). Regulating the oil palm boom: Assessing the effectiveness of environmental governance approaches to agro-industrial pollution in Indonesia. Law & Policy, 32(1), 153–179.Google Scholar
  78. McCarthy, J. F., Gillespie, P., & Zen, Z. (2012). Swimming upstream: Local Indonesian production networks in “globalized” palm oil production. World Development, 40(3), 555–569.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Meyfroidt, P., Lambin, E., Erb, K.-H., & Hertel, T. W. (2013). Globalization of land use: Distant drivers of land change and geographic displacement of land use. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 5(5), 438–444.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Ministry of Agriculture. (2013). Corporate social responsibility (CSR) in Indonesian plantation. Public–Private Dialogue on Investment 2013. Jakarta.Google Scholar
  81. Mohamed, M. (1992). Statement by his excellency prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamed of Malaysia at the United Nations conference on environment and development. United Nations Conference on Environment and Development. 13 June 1992. Rio de Janeiro.Google Scholar
  82. Narine, S. (1998). ASEAN and the management of regional security. Pacific Affairs, 71(2), 195–214.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. Nasir, S. (2012, July 18). The thirst for positive “deviant” leaders. Jakarta Post.Google Scholar
  84. Nesadurai, H. (2008). The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). New Political Economy, 13(2), 225–239.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  85. New Straits Times. (2005, August 12). Malaysian firms also to blame.Google Scholar
  86. Nguitragool, P. (2011). Negotiating the haze treaty. Asian Survey, 51(2), 356–378.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  87. Oishi, M. (2016). Introduction: The ASEAN way of conflict management under challenge. In M. Oishi (Ed.), Contemporary conflicts in Southeast Asia. Singapore: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  88. Parliament of Singapore. (1998). Haze pollution (motion) (1998-06-30). Singapore.Google Scholar
  89. Popkin, B. M. (2006). Technology, transport, globalization and the nutrition transition food policy. Food Policy, 31(6), 554–569.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  90. Potter, L. (2015). Who is “land grabbing”? Who is deforesting? Will certification help prevent bad practice? Paper presented at the international academic conference, Chaing Mai, Thailand.Google Scholar
  91. Quah, E., & Johnston, D. (2001). Forest fires and environmental haze in Southeast Asia: Using the “stakeholder” approach to assign costs and responsibilities. Journal of Environmental Management, 63(2), 181–191.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  92. Rajen, R. (2001). Economic globalization and Asia: Trade, finance and taxation (Discussion Paper No. 0150). Adelaide: Center for International Economic Studies.Google Scholar
  93. Rajenthran, A. (2002). Indonesia: An overview of the legal framework of foreign direct investment (ISEAS Working Papers: Economics and Finance). Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.Google Scholar
  94. Richardson, C. L. (2010). Deforestation due to palm oil plantations in Indonesia. Towards the Sustainable Production of Palm Oil. Australia.Google Scholar
  95. Rifin, A. (2010). The effect of export tax on Indonesia’s Crude palm Oil (CPO) export competitiveness. ASEAN Economic Bulletin, 27(2), 173–184.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  96. Rose-Ackerman, S. (2008). Corruption and government. International Peacekeeping, 15(3), 328–343.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  97. Saharjo, B. H. (1999). The role of human activities in Indonesian forest fire problems. In H. Suhartoyo & T. Toma (Eds.), Impacts of fire and human activities on forest ecosystems in the tropics. Samarinda: Tropical Forest Research Center, Mulawarman University.Google Scholar
  98. Scott, J. C. (1972). Patron-client politics and political change in Southeast Asia. American Political Science Review, 66(1), 91–113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  99. Severino, R. F. (1999, June 21). Fighting the haze: A regional and global responsibility. Paper presented at the Final Regional Workshop of the Regional Technical Assistance Project on Strengthening ASEAN’s capacity to prevent and mitigate transboundary atmospheric pollution, Jakarta.Google Scholar
  100. Shadbolt, P. (2013, June 21). Singapore in haze over worsening smog. CNN.Google Scholar
  101. SIIA. (2010). Haze: Hardest path is only way forward. Singapore Institute of International Affairs. 29 October.Google Scholar
  102. Sim, A. B. (2006). Internationalization strategies of emerging Asian MNEs: Case study evidence on Singaporean and Malaysian firms. Asia Pacific Business Review, 12(4), 487–505.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  103. Smith, A. L. (2004). ASEAN’s ninth summit: Solidifying regional cohesion, advancing external linkages. Contemporary Southeast Asia, 26(3), 416–433.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  104. Soeriaatmadja, W. (2014, September 16). Indonesia’s parliament agrees to ratify ASEAN haze pact. Straits Times.Google Scholar
  105. Solingen, E. (1999). ASEAN, Quo vadis?: Domestic coalitions and regional co-operation. Contemporary Southeast Asia, 21(1), 30–53.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  106. Spracklen, D. V., Reddington, C. L., & Gaveau, D. L. A. (2015). Industrial concessions, fires and air pollution in Equatorial Asia. Environmental Research Letters, 10(9), 1–2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  107. Suwarsono, R. O., Noviar, H., Albar, I., Phonekeo, C. J. S. B. V., & Song, Y. (2007). Influence of climate variation and vegetation greenness on fire occurrence: A case study in Central Kalimantan province. Jakarta: Indonesian National Institute of Aeronautics and Space and Geoinformatics Center – Asian Institute of Technology.Google Scholar
  108. Swinnen, J. F. M., & Maertens, M. (2006). Globalization, privatization, and vertical coordination in food value chains in developing and transition countries. International Association of Agricultural Economists Conference, Gold Coast, Australia.Google Scholar
  109. Syarif, L. M., & Wibisana, A. G. (2007). Strengthening legal and policy frameworks for addressing climate change in Asia: Indonesia. Asian Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Network. United States: United States Environment Programme.Google Scholar
  110. Tan, A. K. (2005a). The ASEAN agreement on transboundary haze pollution: Prospects for compliance and effectiveness in post-Suharto Indonesia. N.Y.U. Environmental Law Journal, 13(3), 647–722.Google Scholar
  111. Tan, B. (2005b). The norms that weren’t: ASEAN’s shortcomings in dealing with transboundary air pollution. International environmental politics. Spring.Google Scholar
  112. Tan, T. (2007, August 18). Haze fight: S’pore to work with slash-and-burn farmers. The Straits Times.Google Scholar
  113. Tan, A. K. J. (2015). The “haze” crisis in Southeast Asia: Assessing Singapore’s Transboundary Haze Pollution Act. NUS Law Working Paper, 2015/002.Google Scholar
  114. Tan, T. M., & Oetomo, T. (2011). Back to basics: Who, what and how? Asia palm oil sector. Kuala Lumpur: Credit Suisse.Google Scholar
  115. Tay, S. S. C. (2003). Corruption after the crisis: Governance, Asian values, and international instruments. In S. S. C. Tay & M. Seda (Eds.), The enemy within: Combating corruption in Asia. Singapore: Eastern University Press.Google Scholar
  116. Tay, S. (2016, March 10). Fighting of fires must continue under blue skies. Today.Google Scholar
  117. The Straits Times. (1998, August 5). President unhappy with Singapore, says AWSJ.Google Scholar
  118. Today. (2016, January 20). Jokowi vows zero tolerance for police, military officials who fail to prevent forest fires.Google Scholar
  119. Varkkey, H. (2016). The haze problem in Southeast Asia: Palm oil and patronage. Oxon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  120. Varma, A. (2003). The economics of slash and burn: A case study of the 1997–1998 Indonesian forest fires. Ecological Economics, 46(3), 159–171.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  121. Woo, S. B. (2014a, February 19). Haze: Govt seeking views on new bill to fine local, foreign companies responsible. TODAY.Google Scholar
  122. Woo, S. B. (2014b, April 3). No major progress on system to monitor haze. Today.Google Scholar
  123. World Bank Group. (2016). The cost of fire: An economic analysis of Indonesia’s 2015 fire crisis. Jakarta.Google Scholar
  124. Yeoh, S., Chan, Y. J., & Srinath, A. (2011). Supply side support in 2012. Top picks – Wilmar & Sime Darby. ASEAN Plantations. Kuala Lumpur: J. P. Morgan.Google Scholar
  125. Zakaria, A., Theile, C., & Khaimur, L. (2007). Policy, practice, pride and prejudice: Review of legal, environmental and social practises of oil palm plantation companies of the Wilmar Group in Sambas District, West Kalimantan (Indonesia). Netherlands: Milieudefensie.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Universiti MalayaKuala LumpurMalaysia

Personalised recommendations