KUALA LUMPUR: The haze which has led to moderate air quality readings in several places in Malaysia is only expected to clear after mid-September.
According to Meteorological Department deputy director-general (operations) Muhammad Helmi Abdullah, this estimation was based on the change in wind direction and frequent rainfall expected between the third week of September and October, during the southwest monsoon shift.
He added that as long as the southwest monsoon winds were still blowing and forest fire hot spots in Kalimantan and Sumatera, Indonesia, remained, the haze would still be experienced.
As such, he advised the public to reduce outdoor activities and avoid open burning.
On Aug 1, it was reported that the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia and Sarawak had begun to experience the haze because of forest fires in six provinces in Indonesia.
Meanwhile, the Kedah Fire and Rescue Department announced that it was ready for forest fires due to the hot and dry weather conditions.
Department director Sayani Saidon said 2,770 fires were recorded from January to July this year, compared with 1,020 cases reported during the same period last year.
The hot weather and drought experienced from January to March this year are believed to be among the factors that led to the increase in the number of bush fires.
Earlier, it was reported that the five Asean nations had pledged on Tuesday to increase cross-border cooperation in minimising haze occurrences during the hot and dry weather from August to October.
In a statement issued today, the energy, science, technology, environment and climate change ministry (Mestecc) said the pact was reached at the 21st Sub-Regional Ministerial Steering Committee on Transboundary Haze Pollution held in Brunei, where Malaysia was represented by Mestecc Deputy Minister Isnaraissah Munirah Majilis.
The enhanced cooperation among the five countries will be through the implementation of the Transboundary Haze Action Plan.
The steering committee also agreed to enhance regional coordination through the implementation of programmes with international collaboration involving tackling transboundary haze pollution, permanent forest management and conservation of peatland.
The five countries also provided updates on their individual actions to tackle forest fires and haze, with Malaysia sharing its efforts in activating its National Open Burning Action Plan, enforcing the law against open burning, and boosting preparations for transboundary haze situations.