Dr M to write to Jokowi over transboundary haze

PETALING JAYA: Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad will be writing to Indonesian President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) over the transboundary air pollution clogging up the skies even as cloud-seeding begins in Sarawak.

Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin said she hoped the letter would attract Jokowi’s attention to proactively address the hundreds of hotspots in Kalimantan and Sumatra.

“The letter will be sent by the Prime Minister’s Department as soon as possible. We hope the Indonesian government can step up their effort in combating forest fires in Kalimantan and Sumatra.

“The increase in hotspots also means that the condition in Sarawak will get worse, ” she said after closing Universiti Teknologi Malaysia Engineering-Industry Innovation Day 2019 in Johor Baru.

Yeo also said her Indonesian counterpart, Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar, could see for herself the hotspots and prevalence of smoke haze coming from Indonesia.

Siti Nurbaya earlier this week claimed that there was no transboundary haze from Indonesia to Malaysia as most of the fires on its side were under control.

Meanwhile, cloud-seeding has begun in Sri Aman, Samarahan and Kuching to help induce rain in these areas.

Meteorological Department director-general Jailan Simon said the operation was conducted with the assistance of the Royal Malaysian Air Force in Labuan.

“We hope we can have some rain from the cloud-seeding operation, ” he said.

Other agencies who helped with the operation include the Labuan Water Department and National Disaster Management Agency.

Sri Aman and Samarahan recorded an unhealthy air pollutant index (API) reading on Wednesday.

As at 4pm yesterday, only Sri Aman had an unhealthy reading of 153, while Samarahan was 67 and Kuching 79, which are deemed moderate.

Jailan noted that there had been a significant increase of hotspots in Kalimantan on Wednesday, with the number nearly tripling from 474 to 1,188.

In Sumatra, the number of hotspots went up from 387 on Tuesday to 431 on Wednesday.

As of Wednesday, there was only one hotspot in Peninsular Malaysia while Sabah and Sarawak recorded four.

“So even if the cloud-seeding is successful, the chance of getting the haze is still high, ” Jailan said.

As at 4pm, 17 areas nationwide recorded unhealthy API readings, with Johan Setia in Klang recording very unhealthy readings which dropped to 200.

Other areas that recorded unhealthy API readings include Seri Manjung (142), Batu Muda (136), Kuala Selangor (133), Shah Alam (129), and Klang (127).

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