Forest fires and land-clearing blazes were reported in Riau, North
Sumatra and West Kalimantan resulting in haze affecting not only Indonesia but
Malaysia and Thailand as well. According to Straits Times (dated 22 August
2005), ‘thousands of hectares of land in Rokan Hilir, Bangko and Kubu, about
400 km from Pekanbaru, have been blanketed in smoke for weeks’.
Lion Heart - Wildfire was activated. Led by LTC Yazid Abdullah, Commander of
4th CD Division, the 54-strong contingent which includes a team of 3 medical
personnel were deployed to support their Indonesian counterparts to contain the
contingent departed for Pekan Baru on Thur, 18 August 2005 at 6.00pm. Upon
arrival, the contingent was greeted by the local authorities, the Defence
Attache, and a Liaison Officer from the Singapore Consulate. Subsequently, they
were given a briefing on the area of operations the vicinity of Rokan Hilir,
some 350km from Pekan Baru, and they had to travel by night! After some ten
hours on the road, the contingent ‘nally arrived at Desa Teluk Bano, Batu Putih
the next morning, where the base camp was set up.
briefings by the local Polhut (Forest rangers) and site recces, fire fighting
operations started that very afternoon. Nine sections, covering three hectares
of forested land, were deployed some 15km away from the base camp. Although
many of the contingent members had similar experiences with bush ‘res in
Singapore, challenges were plentiful. The ‘res were mainly deep seated and not
easy to extinguish; the undulating and difficult terrain, including the very
hot weather made the situation very unfavourable.
following days saw similar operations being carried out, and at the end of the
operations on 23 August, the contingent had covered seven different locations,
stretching over 10 hectares of forested land and oil palm plantations.
With everyone eager to help and do something for our neighbouring country, the
collective efforts of the contingent had certainly brought about the success of
this mission and all contingent members definitely deserve a pat on the