Malaysia to push for proactive action on haze at Asean meet

Kuala Lumpur is shrouded in a thick blanket of haze August 1, 2019. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
Kuala Lumpur is shrouded in a thick blanket of haze August 1, 2019. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

PUTRAJAYA, Aug 5 — The regional haze issue will be raised at the Asean 21st Technical Working Group and Sub-Regional Ministerial Steering Committee meeting on Transboundary Haze Pollution which commences in Brunei today. 

 The Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Ministry (Mestecc), in a statement, said Malaysia will use the two-day meeting to urge other group member nations to take proactive action by ensuring their forest and peat soil fires are controlled so as to prevent transboundary haze episodes from occurring. 

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

The Malaysian delegation to the annual meeting that involves four other Asean nations — Brunei, Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand to tackle transboundary haze through monitoring and prevention activities will be led by Mestecc Deputy Minister Isnaraissah Munirah Majilis.

The initiative to resolve the haze problem in Asean was first taken in 1997 after parts of the region were hit by a serious haze episode, and this led to the signing of the Asean Transboundary Haze Agreement by 10 member nations in Kuala Lumpur in 2002. 

Currently, the western parts of Peninsular Malaysia and Sarawak are experiencing slight hazy conditions as a result of ongoing open burning and forest fires in Sumatera and Kalimantan in Indonesia. 

The statement said haze from affected areas in Sumatera and Kalimantan was being blown by north-westerly winds to the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia and Sarawak respectively, pushing up the Air Pollutant Index (API).  

Mestecc, through the Department of Environment (DOE) will continue to monitor air quality status and trends on an hourly basis as a result of an increase in hotspots in Sumatera and Kalimantan.

At the same time, investigations and enforcement will continue at all identified hotspots in the country, the statement read. — Bernama