Putrajaya to send diplomatic note to Indonesia as haze worsens in Sarawak

Forest fires in Indonesian plantations have been blamed for the occurrence of smoke pollution in the region. (Bernama pic)

KUCHING: Putrajaya will send a diplomatic note to Jakarta requesting action be taken to put out raging forest fires in Indonesia, as smoke pollution worsens in several parts of Sarawak.

Deputy Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Isnaraissah Munirah Majilis said the government was currently in the final stage of drafting the document.

“Malaysia will also continue to collaborate with other neighbouring countries, especially Indonesia, to tackle issues on transboundary haze pollution,” she told reporters here.

As at noon today, the air pollutant index (API) recorded a reading of 140 in Kuching, 132 in Samarahan, 176 in Sri Aman, 124 in Sibu, 142 in Miri, 115 in Sarikei and 102 in Mukah.

An API reading above 100 is considered unhealthy.

The Asean Specialised Meteorological Centre said a total of 1,393 hotspots had been detected in Indonesia compared to only 17 hotspots in Malaysia.

Isnaraissah said authorities will investigate the hotspots detected in the country.

She said the Technical Working Group and Sub-Regional Ministerial Steering Committee on transboundary haze pollution, comprising Brunei, Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand, had pledged to increase preventive action to control the haze situation during the dry season between August and October this year.

Isnaraissah also warned landowners to be alert to any open burning activities.

“Those caught for open burning will be charged under Section 29 (A) of the Environmental Quality Act 1974 and upon conviction, can be sentenced to a maximum of five years jail and fined RM500,000,” she added.