Jakarta assures Putrajaya of action against haze

Environment minister Yeo Bee Yin says Malaysia expressed concern over the haze situation during a meeting with Indonesian embassy officials.

PETALING JAYA: Indonesia has told Malaysia it is acting against the transboundary haze that is affecting several parts of the country.

Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin said Indonesia is deploying 1,994 personnel in Sumatra and 860 personnel in Kalimantan to try and stem the root cause of the problem.

Some 1,680 volunteers are also helping to extinguish the forest fires, while 16 helicopters are being utilised in Kalimantan to carry out water bombing at strategic spots, she said.

“Enforcement teams are apprehending those who were responsible for illegal burning activities,” she added in a Facebook post after meeting with representatives from the Indonesian embassy to discuss the matter.

Yeo said that during the meeting with two Indonesian officials, which was also attended by her deputy and officials from her ministry and Wisma Putra, Malaysia reiterated its concern over the impact of the persistent transboundary haze.

She said Malaysia reiterated its offer to assist Indonesia to extinguish the raging forest fires in Kalimantan and Sumatra.

Yeo said Wisma Putra had informed her ministry that Malaysian ambassador to Indonesia Zainal Abidin Bakar met up with Indonesian senior officials in Jakarta yesterday to discuss the haze situation.

She also said the government would continue to do cloud-seeding whenever the situation allowed for it, and send assistance to Indonesia if and when they accepted the offer.

The dry spell and the southwest monsoon season have worsened the impact of transboundary haze in Malaysia, with more than 800 hotspots recorded in Kalimantan and 200 in Sumatra.

Peninsular Malaysia is affected by the haze from Sumatra, whereas Sarawak has suffered the brunt of the haze originating from Kalimantan.

According to the Asean Specialised Meteorological Centre in Singapore, hotspot activities in Sumatra and Kalimantan were expected to persist and the haze may continue to affect parts of Peninsular Malaysia, Sarawak and Singapore for the next few days.

Although it has predicted rainy conditions over the northern Asean region, it said dry weather was expected in the southern parts.

“Unhealthy” air quality was reported at 8pm today in Kuching, Samarahan and Sri Aman in Sarawak, Rompin in Pahang, Tangkak in Johor, and Bandaraya Melaka, Bukit Rambai and Alor Gajah in Melaka.

Air quality was also poor in Seremban, Nilai and Port Dickson in Negeri Sembilan as well as Banting, Johan Setia, Klang, Shah Alam and Petaling Jaya in Selangor, in Putrajaya, and Cheras and Batu Muda in Kuala Lumpur.