Wednesday, April 28, 1999 Published at 07:53 GMT 08:53 UK
Return of Asian haze warning
Smog from the 1997 fires made 20 million people ill
Indonesia has warned that an environmental disaster, which left large parts of South East Asia blanketed in smoke haze last year, may be repeated.
The haze is caused by farmers illegally setting fire to land in order to clear it.
Prof Suyono said previous fires had heightened soil erosion and made affected areas more prone to fires.
Prof Suyono said Indonesia lacked funds to monitor the problem and that the current climate of 'reform' in Indonesia meant that people were not afraid to defy laws prohibiting the clearing of land.
Indonesia, the fourth most populous country in the world, has been racked by social unrest since its economy foundered in the wake of Asia's economic crisis.
In some areas where it is known that forest fires have started once again, the authorities are already fully stretched trying to quell sectarian violence.
As well as the environmental damage that would be caused by a return of the haze, they are worried the fires will once again blight tourism and further damage the region's ailing economies.
Last year the fires destroyed more than 3,000 acres of land and were blamed for a string of accidents, including a plane crash.
Smog caused by Indonesian fires blanketed neighbouring Singapore and Malaysia and threatened the Comonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur.