PETALING JAYA: Environmental non-governmental organisations (NGOs) want the Government to release more information on the worsening haze.
Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) and Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) said the Department of Environment (DOE) and Meteorological Services Department had not been proactive in giving information especially on the Air Pollution Index (API).
“Not wanting to scare tourists is not a good enough reason to not release the index,” said SAM honorary secretary Meena Raman.
“There is no information on how the authorities are co-operating with the Indonesian Government to stop the problem from becoming an annual event,” she added.
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said the Government has no plans to release the API reading.
“We will monitor the situation and give general advice to the people,” he said.
Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Adenan Satem said the API would not be released for now and there was no need to declare a state of emergency despite the drop in air quality and visibility.
“I will brief the Cabinet today on the situation and about releasing the Air Pollution Index,” he said after launching the Vehicular Emissions Campaign at Puspakom.
Wildlife Fund for Nature Malaysia said in a statement that the actual API reading should be released instead of describing the situation as “good, moderate, unhealthy, very unhealthy or hazardous.”
“The public has the right to know and such readings should be released and announced over the media regularly to enable the public to take the necessary precautions,” it said.
Suhakam investigation and complaints committee chairman Prof Datuk Mohd Hamdan Adnan called for continuous follow-up actions to combat the haze.
“People are still carrying out open burnings especially farmers who are still using the traditional slash-and-burn method to clear land,” he said, adding that the agriculture department has the responsibility of teaching traditional farmers about environment-friendly farming methods.
Meanwhile, the Health Ministry said there has not been a big increase in respiratory cases at government hospitals due to the haze.
“We are aware that the haze can cause respiratory and tract problems.
“People should stay indoors, especially those who suffer from chronic lung disease, asthma and allergies. If you really must go out, wear a mask to cover your nose and mouth,” said ministry director-general Datuk Dr Ismail Merican.
The Road Safety Department has advised drivers to exercise more caution, including keeping a safe distance between vehicles and being more careful when overtaking other vehicles.
In Pahang, DOE stations in Jerantut reported lower air quality compared to Indera Mahkota and Balok.
In Malacca, visibility in the Straits of Malacca was reduced to a kilometre, posing danger to ships without navigational equipment.
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