Malaysia — We refer to an article entitled Sustainable Practices needed to address haze issue, (The Star, 25 October 2010) and we appreciate the concerns highlighted in the said article.
Malaysia had experienced deterioration in air quality in the states of Johor, Malacca, Negeri Sembilan and Selangor since 16 October 2010 until 23 October 2010. The satellite image produced by ASEAN Specialised Meteorological Centre (ASMC) had shown that the prevailing southwesterly to westerly winds bring in smoke haze from Sumatra, Indonesia to the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia particularly the state of Johor.
During this period, the satellite image from ASMC also show an escalating number of hotspots in Sumatra, from 80 hotspots on 16 October 2010 to 244 hotspots on 17 October 2010 and 358 on 18 October 2010. As the number of hotspots in Sumatra decreases the air quality in the affected areas also improves beginning from the 24 October 2010.
Transboundary haze pollution requires the continuous cooperation and support of our neighbours. As one of the activities of the Ministerial Steering Committee on Transboundary Haze Pollution that comprises Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand, Malaysia collaborated with Indonesia in Rokan Hilir Regency, Riau Province in preventive measures to deal with land and forest fires and haze.
With the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding on 3June 2008, many activities have been implemented such as training workshop on zero burning techniques for community leaders and farmers from Riau Province, Fire fighting training for Masyarakat Peduli Api from Riau Province, installation of an air quality monitoring station in Bagan Siapiapi,Rokan Hilir Regency in May 2009 and also Fire and haze prevention through rehabilitation and improved management of peatlands in 5 selected villages in Rokan Hilir Regency as pilot sites.
In tackling open burning incidents, the Department of Environment is continuously taking preventive actions including peatland management and construction of tube wells for water management in fire-prone areas and fire suppression.