| JAKARTA, June 24
JAKARTA, June 24 Indonesian police on Monday
arrested two farmers for illegally starting fires to clear land
in Sumatra, the first detentions linked to blazes that have
blanketed neighbouring Singapore and Malaysia with thick smog
Police said the two farmers were not linked to any of the
eight companies the government suspects are responsible for
Southeast Asia's worst air pollution crisis in years.
The parent companies of those firms included Malaysia-listed
Sime Darby, which has denied wrongdoing.
"We arrested two farmers in Riau who were clearing their
land by burning. They were not working for anyone but just
clearing their own land," said Agus Rianto, deputy spokesman for
the national police.
Under Indonesian law, any company or person involved in an
illegal forest fire faces up to 10 years in prison and fines of
up to 5 billion rupiah ($503,800).
The smog has cleared in the financial centre of Singapore,
with the pollution index remaining under "unhealthy levels" for
the second consecutive day. It hit a record of 401 on Friday
afternoon, a level considered potentially life-threatening for
the ill and the elderly.
A conference on nuclear policy was postponed due to some
participants unwilling to travel to Singapore because of the
haze. The speakers included former U.S. secretary of state
George Shultz and former secretary of defense William Perry.