Ensure workers don’t resort to slash-and-burn methods, Lee tells M’sian firms operating in Indonesia

PETALING JAYA: With haze clouding the skies again, Malaysian plantation companies operating in Indonesia should ensure its workers do not aggravate the situation by resorting to slash-and-burn methods for land clearing, says Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye.

The Alliance for A Safe Community chairman said the Malaysian companies should actively monitor their workers to determine if they were contributing to the worsening haze conditions.

"The slash-and-burn method is the major cause of transboundary haze and we can expect it to be aggravated further by the effects of El Nino," he said.

Lee said the Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change Ministry must increase vigilance and be more alert to open burning locally.

He said there were several areas in Selangor especially areas in Ampang Jaya where open burning at squatter settlements and construction sites were rampant.

Lee stressed that Malaysians should refrain from being involved in open burning and be the "eyes and ears" of the authorities by promptly reporting such cases they come across.

He said Asean countries should pay greater attention to overcoming transboundary haze and find a solution to completely free the region of it.

"Transboundary haze has existed for a long time and there has not been an amicable and enduring solution to ending it.

"Although it has been said that the problem will be overcome by 2030, it is essential for Asean nations to intensify its efforts and expedite finding solutions," Lee said.

Climate expert Prof Datuk Dr Azizan Abu Samah said from the month of July, farmers in Sumatra and Kalimantan began burning plantations and undergrowth at peatlands.

He said if the El Nino effect occurs, the haze could worsen and the situation could be similar to that in 2019.

Azizan said high particle pollution could cause health issues as fine particles could penetrate the human respiratory and cardiovascular system.

"Transboundary haze has been plaguing the region since 1994. What is more concerning is that Indonesia's big businesses do not care of subjecting their citizens to high levels of particulate matter.

"If we have high readings of particulate matter, the impact on the health of Indonesians is higher as they are affected two or three times more," he said.

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