Malaysia calls on Asean to fight haze as Indonesia battles forest fires

6 August 2019

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) – Malaysia will call on Asean member countries to take proactive measures to avoid trans-boundary haze during a two-day meeting in Brunei beginning on Tuesday (Aug 6).

In a statement, the Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Ministry said Malaysia wanted concerted efforts taken in accordance with the Asean Agreement on Trans-boundary Haze ratified by member countries.

Deputy Minister Isnaraissah Munirah Majilis, who will lead the Malaysian delegation to the 21st Technical Working Group, and the Sub-Regional Ministerial Steering Committee Trans-boundary Haze Pollution meetings in Brunei,would submit reports on the measures taken to avoid open burning and haze.

“Malaysia will also activate a new National Action Plan for Open Burning and fine-tune the existing National Haze Action Plan,” the ministry said on Monday.

The annual meeting involving Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand will discuss steps that need to be taken to address the trans-boundary pollution issue.

In 2015, raging fires in Riau and other parts of Sumatra spawned choking haze that blanketed parts of Singapore and Malaysia.

The ministry also noted that the Klang Valley comprising capital city Kuala Lumpur and its surrounding areas, the southern part of the west coast of the peninsula and the west coast of Sarawak were slightly shrouded in haze as forest fires continued to rage in Sumatra and Kalimantan.

“Based on the Singapore-based Asean Specialised Meteorological Centre’s (ASMC) report on Aug 2, 25 hot spots were recorded, of which 23 were in Kalimantan and two in Sabah.

“There were also hot spots that could not be detected due to the thick cloud. ASMC’s regional haze map showed the ring of smoke covering burning areas and the forests in Riau and Jambi in Sumatra, as well as in west and central Kalimantan, Indonesia,” it said.

The Air Pollutant Index had also increased in the peninsula and western Sarawak, said the ministry.

The Meteorological Department, it added, had forecast the south-west monsoon to persist until mid-September.