Malaysia calls for Asean action on forest fires

Hot spots from forest fires are shown in this map by the Asean meteorological centre.

PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia is to urge its Asean partners to take action on forest and peat fires to prevent smog in the form of transboundary haze from affecting neighbouring countries.

The Ministry of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change said today that the haze issue would be raised at a two-day meeting of a technical working group and a sub-regional ministerial steering committee in Brunei.

Malaysian officials would urge other Asean members to ensure that forest and peat soil fires in their countries are controlled.

Malaysia would also report on its own measures and action taken to prevent open burning, including updates of the National Haze Action Plan and the activation of the National Open Burning Action Plan.

The meeting involves officials of Brunei, Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand. They will discuss ways to tackle transboundary haze through monitoring and prevention activities.

Deputy environment minister Isnaraissah Munirah Majilis will lead the Malaysian delegation.

Asean officials began taking joint action on haze in 1997 after parts of the region were seriously affected. A Transboundary Haze Agreement was signed by all 10 member nations in Kuala Lumpur in 2002.

Western parts of Peninsular Malaysia and Sarawak have experienced slight hazy conditions as a result of open burning and forest fires in Sumatra and Kalimantan in Indonesia.

The statement said smog from affected areas in Sumatra and Kalimantan was being blown by the north-westerly winds to Malaysia.

Air quality drops in four areas of Penang

Air quality in four areas of Penang was “moderate” today, with readings above 80 on the Air Pollutants Index.

The highest readings were at Balik Pulau, (88), Seberang Jaya (82), Minden (82) and Seberang Perai (83) all in Penang, Sungai Patani, Kedah (84) and Johan Setia, Klang, Selangor (83).

Moderate API readings were recorded elsewhere while only Tawau, Sabah recorded a “good” API reading of 48.

An API reading of between zero and 50 indicates good air quality, between 51 and 100 (moderate), between 101 and 200 (unhealthy), between 201 and 300 (very unhealthy) and over 301 (hazardous).

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