A minister suggests all mosques and surau in the country to hold special prayers seeking divine intervention to battle the haze.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Jamil Khir Baharom said Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak made the suggestion when he met him on the sideline of the Dewan Rakyat sitting today.
“The prime minister hopes that with the cooperation of the Islamic Development Department (Jakim), all mosques, surau, individuals, associations and non-governmental organisations can hold this prayer,” he told reporters after the swearing-in ceremony of the Dewan Rakyat members here today.
In the Federal Territory, he said, the special prayer would be held at the National Mosque after the Zohor (afternoon) prayer tomorrow.
“Jakim will inform the states about the suggestion by the prime minister,” he added.
Yesterday, the prime minister declared a state of emergency due to haze for the districts of Muar and Ledang in Johor.
The declaration was made following the haze situation, particularly in the two districts, exceeding 500 on the Air Pollutants Index (API) which was an emergency level.
Schools in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Putrajaya and Melaka are also closed today because of the haze, besides the schools in Muar and Ledang in Johor, Kuantan (Pahang) and Port Dickson (Negeri Sembilan).
Food and tourism sectors hit by haze
Meanwhile, in Johor, food raleted businesses are reporting a decline in sales.
A proprietor of a coffee-shop in Taman Pelangi, Johor Baru, had to close his outlet yesterday because there were no customers – the haze made sure of that!
Ah Pui, as he wished to be known, said most of his usual customers, especially those who rode (motorcycle) to work, did not come for lunch on Friday and Saturday due to the haze.
“Those who always come for Sunday breakfast with their families did not come yesterday. I think they chose to stay at home instead of getting themselves exposed to the polluted air,” he said.
Ah Pui’s is just one example of how far the haze has affected the livelihood of Malaysians.
Ah Pui said he hoped that the haze would end soon and all parties would cooperate in avoiding open burning that could worsen the situation.
Like Ah Pui, people in the tourism industry hope that the situation would return to normal as the haze had also badly affected them.
Although the condition in Johor Baharu is not as bad as in Muar and Ledang, which recorded a hazardous Air Pollutant Index (API) of 746 yesterday, the impact on the tourism industry would be disastrous if the haze continues.
Pulai Springs Resort general manager Tengku Ahmad Faizal Tengku Mohamed, when contacted today, said the resort had 20 cancellations of room bookings.
“We had 20 cancellations when the haze started to worsen last Friday and this is a loss to us. We hope it will end soon or tourism in the state would be greatly affected,” he said, adding that it was a relief to see the API improving.
Those who cancelled reservations were Singaporeans who had planned a good weekend rest and golf session at the resort.
Tengku Ahmad Faizal said the Pulai Springs golf course, which can accommodate 35 flights (four golfers per flight) per day, had always been fully booked during the weekends.
However, due to the haze, it had only 18 flights in the morning and eight flights in the afternoon.
“The people want to have good time, good rest and good golf,” he said, adding that the improving condition would certainly be good news for everybody.
Asked if the birds at the resort’s mini zoo were affected by the haze, he said they were all fine.
The API for Kota Tinggi, Larkin Lama, Muar and Pasir Gudang as at 11 am today was 74, 107, 132 and 75, respectively, better than the 78, 111, 148 and 83 as at 7 am.