Malaysia — The Federation of Malaysian Consumers Associations (Fomca) on Sunday called on the Government to step up efforts to combat haze, saying the phenomenon was becoming a permanent feature in the country.
In the past, we only had haze when there was extensive burning of forests in a neighbouring country, but now it is a daily occurrence due to the climatic changes and indiscriminate open burning, said Fomca president Datuk N. Marimuthu.
He said the Government should identify the usual hot spots, especially areas of local peat fires, and set up a well-trained air and land fire-fighting unit.
Peat fires should be controlled by using a soaking system where the peat soil was soaked in water rather than water sprayed over it.
He explained that peat fires usually spread below ground and it was necessary to soak the soil to put off the fires.
Marimuthu said statistics showed that almost five million hectares in Indonesia and Malaysia had been destroyed due to such fires since 1997 and that more land would be burnt up if no measures were taken to control the fires.
He said the local government authorities should be empowered to take preventive steps, particularly in controlling open burning of solid and garden wastes by the people.
He proposed more frequent checks and imposition of heavy penalties on those committing such offences.