Yeo: Blueprint from Klang peat fires to forge national SOP on open burning

KLANG: A new inter-agency standard operating procedure (SOP) to solve the decade-old Johan Setia open burning problem will be used as a pilot project on how to address open burning cases nationwide.

The Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change (MESTECC) Ministry is engaging various government agencies including the Fire and Rescue Department, Klang Land Office, Department of Environment, Klang Municipal Council and state assemblymen to come up with a new SOP to solve the Johan Setia peat fire once and for all.

Its minister Yeo Bee Yin said based on feedback from Klang residents during a dialogue on Saturday (Sept 1), she would also be engaging the Agriculture and Agro-based Ministry and Home Ministry to tackle the problem.

This is because the fires are often started by foreign workers in the plantations.

"We need an SOP where the government agencies will coordinate among themselves to put out the fires and solve the issue at the root, even without a minister going to the field," Yeo said.

"Klang is near to Parliament and Putrajaya, so I can come here easily but not other parts of the country, so we need an SOP that can be implemented nationwide," the Bakri MP added.

Yeo said she wanted to create two action plans after a post-mortem with the relevant agencies: one on prevention, the other on mitigation.

The prevention action plan will address how to reduce the risk of open burning in peat soil land.

The mitigation plan will address how to effectively coordinate all the different agencies in responding to open burning.

"One of the problems is that there are not enough coordination between the different agencies to solve the Johan Setia fires.

"We need to strengthen the coordination for fast action to be taken," Yeo said.

As the haze in Klang reached unhealthy levels last month, Yeo on Aug 15 visited Johan Setia and coordinated firefighting operations to put out fires across an estimated 8ha of peat soil.

"As a Federal Minister, I am here not to only solve local problem. We are solving a national problem where, if there is anything similar happening in other parts of the country, the same SOP must be applied to that," she said.

The SOP is expected to be ready in a month's time.

Residents of Klang and as far as Shah Alam have been struggling with the haze problem for years. They claimed it had been going on since 2008 despite multiple reports and promises by the state government.

They are demanding a permanent solution as they worry the haze causes respiratory illnesses.

Also present at the dialogue and the post-mortem was Department of Environment director Datuk Dr Ahmad Kamarulnajuib Che Ibrahim, Selangor Department of Environment director Siti Zaleha Ibrahim and Selangor Fire and Rescue Department director Azmi Osman and Klang Land Office assistant district officer Mohamad Saiful Azeri and Sentosa assemblyman Gujarajah George.

Yeo Bee Yin , Klang , Peat fires