PUTRAJAYA: The Government will work with Indonesian local authorities to better control the sources of haze in that country so that the rest of the region will not be affected.
Science, Technology and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Law Hieng Ding said he had proposed the new approach as it would be more effective than working with the Indonesian federal government.
“This is because, in Indonesia, the federal ministry of environment does not have departments or branches at state and district levels. Measures to contain bushfires and open burning mostly depend on local authorities.
“So, we are thinking of working together with the local authorities and may even send a liaison officer to places prone to open burning in Indonesia to co-ordinate efforts and work as a facilitator with our team over here,” he told reporters after giving away grants under the Science and Technology Motivation Programme to various schools and agencies here yesterday.
Law said that satellite images of Indonesia only revealed hot spots, which indicated burning in an area.
“However, they do not tell us about the kind of fire, whether the open burning is occurring in plantations, forests or agricultural plots, or how big the area is involved.
“By stationing a liaison officer there, the person can relay such information to us and help us plan more effective measures,” he pointed out.
So far, Law said that Indonesian authorities had notified the ministry that there were 17 spots in Sumatra and Kalimantan found to be prone to fires during this season.
Hot spots in Sumatra usually affect air quality in Peninsular Malaysia while those in Kalimantan cause haze in Sabah and Sarawak.
Asked if the current military campaign by Indonesia against Acehnese rebels had affected inter-regional measures to contain haze from worsening, Law said it was too soon to tell.
He said the situation in Malaysia was under control and air quality in many parts of the country was still moderate.
Law said the ministry was looking into controlling smoke emission by vehicles as a way to reduce air pollution.
“Local pollution is not all due to open burning or bush fires. We must see how bad smoke emission is,” he added.