KUALA LUMPUR: Haze Emergency has been declared indefinitely for the entire Kuala Selangor and Port Klang areas from yesterday, the Government announced.
All workplaces are to remain closed except for essential services, food retailers and supermarkets.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said the emergency status was declared only for the two areas where the Air Pollutant Index breached the 500 mark.
Abdullah declared the emergency at 5pm, two hours after the API showed a reading of 500 in the two areas.
The Prime Minister stressed that the declaration did not mean that a curfew had been imposed, nor would there be any removal of the areas from the Selangor administration.
“But the police and the army are required to take measures to guarantee continued peace and security,’’ he said in a statement.
As of 5pm yesterday, the API levels in Kuala Lumpur reached 295, Petaling Jaya 326, Port Klang 486, Kuala Selangor 527, Shah Alam 430 and Putrajaya 354.
Since 12.45pm yesterday, the Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport in Subang was closed due to poor visibility, while seaport operations in North and West ports were temporarily disrupted between 2.30pm and 4.30pm.
The Selangor Education Department called on all schools to suspend classes today.
Banking institutions in Port Klang and Kuala Selangor will, however, remain open.
Banks will continue to provide cash transactions, including deposits and withdrawals, ATM facilities, remittance services and cheque clearing, Bank Negara said in a statement.
The stock market will also carry on trading today, said the central bank.
Abdullah said he had given the National Security Council the authority to declare emergency in other areas whenever the API level hits 500.
“They don’t have to wait for me to make the announcement,” he said.
He also said he had telephoned Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to offer Malaysia’s help to contain the fires in Indonesia.
“It is up to them whether they want to accept our invitation. I have offered cloud seeding and our Smart team to help put out the fires.”
He said Susilo was unable to say how long it would take for Indonesia to contain the fire but the Indonesian president admitted that the area involved was very big.
In the meantime, Abdullah hoped no other areas in the Klang Valley would be put under emergency status after Port Klang and Kuala Selangor.
“Let us pray to God that the haze will reduce. I have proposed that mosques conduct special prayers (sembahyang hajat) so that there will be rain.
“I hope people from other faiths can also hold special prayers for more rain. This has been my approach in facing situations like this. We ask for God’s intervention.”