Thank you Indonesia for the HAZE!

The scene at Prime Minister Office in Putrajaya

The hazy scene at the Prime Minister Office in Putrajaya

Air pollutions caused by haze have reached a dangerous level in several parts of Malaysia and Singapore.  The Malaysian Environment Department director general, Puan Halimah Hassan, has declared that air pollutant index showed an unhealthy levels between 101-129 in Malacca and Port Klang. The Department has issued a ban on open burning in several States. Is this enough?  The answer is “NO”What is the point in such a ban when the haze was caused by the open burning in Sumatera yearly?  

The hazy skylines of KL City.

The hazy skylines of KL City.

The hazy scene of KL Tower & Menara Maybank with the Petronas Twin Tower at the background.

The hazy scene of KL Tower & Menara Maybank with the Petronas Twin Tower at the background.

There was a damning article published by BBC as early as in 2007 which entitled “PALM OIL WARNING FOR INDONESIA”.

It would appear that the government has been blindly relying on meetings between ASEAN Environment Ministers to solve this yearly problems of haze from Sumatera. Despite the many meetings between the environmental ministers of ASEAN, we are still facing the man made haze from Sumatera, Indonesia, yearly.  The periodical joint statements and setting up of Sub-regional Ministerial Steering Committee on Trans Boundaries Haze Pollution of ASEAN have not deterred the palm oil plantation bosses from the activities of slash-and-burn in Sumatera. It is all about PROFITS.  Unless the Indonesian government has the political will to take drastic actions like prosecuting the bosses of the big oil palm plantation in Sumatera with jail terms and heavy fine, it will be “business as usual” for them!

The questions that we should be asking our government is: What direct actions is the government going to take to stop the open burning activities in Sumatera that have caused the haze pollution in Malaysia?

For a start the Government should summon the Indonesian ambassador to express our strong objections against the big scale open burning in Sumatera. The Government cannot rely on the meetings of the Asean Environment Ministers alone to resolve the problems whilst the rkayat are suffering from the man made haze yearly. It is about time that diplomat pressures had to be exerted upon the Indonesian Government to stop the activities of open burning in Sumatera. Public health cannot be compromise as  the haze has now reached a dangerous level.  Whilst we know that it is too late to stop the haze but the government must take stern actions so that it will not recur next year.

On 7-7-2008 yours truly has tabled a question in Parliament and just look at the pathetic reply below provided by the Tun Abdullah’s minister to Parliament. It was a hazy reply!  From the reply, the government appeared to be suffering from the “tidak spa” attitude.

7 Julai 2008

Tuan Wee Choo Keong [Wangsa Maju] minta Menteri Sumber Asli dan Alam Sekitar menyatakan apakah tindakan yang bakal diambil oleh pihak kerajaan terhadap pembakaran hutan secara terbuka (open burning) yang berlaku setiap tahun di Sumatera, di mana ia telah menyebabkan kejadian jerebu di ruang udara Malaysia dan mengancam kesihatan kita.

YB Dato" Maznah Mazlan

YB Dato’  Maznah Mazlan, mantan Timabalan Menteri Sumber Alsi & Alam Sekitar.

Timbalan Menteri Sumber Asli dan Alam Sekitar [Dato’ Maznah Mazlan]: Tuan Yang di-Pertua, terima kasih di atas soalan tersebut dan saya akan menjawab soalan Yang Berhormat Wangsa Maju bersekali dengan Yang Berhormat Tawau, soalan 42 kerana ada kaitan. Tuan Yang di-Pertua, untuk makluman Dewan yang mulia ini, kita dapati bahawa, jangkaan yang dibuat oleh stesen pemantauan di peringkat ASEAN menjangkakan bahawa dalam tempoh Jun hingga September 2008 ini, keadaan cuaca adalah lebih panas dan kering berbanding tempoh yang sama pada tahun 2007. Dalam tempoh ini, terdapat potensi berlakunya peningkatan bilangan titik panas, dengan izin, hot spots terutama di kawasankawasan yang mudah terbakar di Sumatera, Semenanjung Malaysia dan juga Borneo. Oleh itu, saya mengambil kesempatan ini untuk memaklumkan tindakan-tindakan yang telah diambil oleh kerajaan untuk menangani jerebu di rantau ini. Kerajaan memandang serius mengenai jerebu dan di dalam menangani masalah ini, kita tidak bersendiri. Untuk makluman bersama, terdapat jawatankuasa peringkat tertinggi di peringkat ASEAN dan beberapa jawatankuasa teknikal telah diwujudkan lebih daripada satu dekad yang lalu.

Untuk makluman bersama, di peringkat ASEAN, telah ada perjanjian yang mana bersama-sama untuk menangani pencemaran jerebu merentas sempadan. Menteri-menteri alam sekitar negara-negara ASEAN mempunyai persidangannya sendiri yang dibuat secara berkala untuk membincangkan dan memantau tindakan-tindakan yang diambil untuk menangani jerebu. Terdapat satu lagi jawatankuasa yang mana terhad kepada lima negara yang terdekat dengan Malaysia iaitu Indonesia, Brunei, Singapura, Thailand bersama Malaysia di dalam satu jawatankuasa yang dipanggil Sub-regional Ministerial Steering Committee on Trans Boundaries Haze Pollution, yang mana yang terakhir ataupun yang terbaru diadakan ialah pada 23 Jun yang lalu di Singapura dan jawatankuasa ini bersidang tiap-tiap suku tahun. Jawatankuasa ini disokong oleh jawatankuasa teknikal yang menggabungkan tenaga-tenaga teknikal daripada negara-negara berkenaan. Oleh kerana kebanyakan daripada kebakaran dan jerebu ini kebanyakannya melibatkan Indonesia, maka tumpuan telah dibuat kepada Sumatera dan kita dapati bahawa atas gabungan dan pemikiran bersama, kita dapati Indonesia telah meningkatkan komitmennya dan menggubal satu pelan tindakan Indonesia bagi menangani masalah pencemaran jerebu merentas sempadan. Di dalam pelan tindakan ini, ianya begitu komprehensif yang menyeluruh, menggaris langkah-langkah jangka masa pendek, sederhana dan panjang.

Untuk ini, Kerajaan Indonesia sendiri memperuntukkan sebanyak 800 bilion rupiah ataupun RM300 juta untuk menangani masalah ini dan Kabinet Malaysia pada 11 April 2007 yang lalu, telah memperuntukkan RM2.6 juta untuk bekerjasama dengan Indonesia didalam mengatasi punca jerebu ini. Kita dapati bahawa 3 Jun 2008 yang lalu, satu perjanjian bersama di antara Malaysia dan Wilayah Riau telah ditandatangani yang mana Kerajaan Malaysia bersetuju untuk sama-sama membantu Indonesia ataupun Wilayah Riau untuk mengatasi masalah pembakaran terbuka ini. Di antara program-program kerjasama tersebut yang akan dibantu oleh Malaysia ialah mewujudkan masyarakat setempat seperti para petani dan peladang yang peka mengenai masalah ini dan melatih mereka dalam hal-hal mengawal dan pemadaman api yang mana akan dianggotai oleh masyarakat di Indonesia yang dipanggil Program Masyarakat Peduli Api.

Selain daripada itu, syarikat-syarikat perladangan kelapa sawit di Indonesia juga akan bersama-sama dengan pakar-pakar yang ada di negara ini, yang terlibat di dalam bidang ini, untuk bersama-sama menganjurkan pendekatan pembakaran sifar ataupun membakar dengan kawalan-kawalan tertentu apabila melibatkan pembersihan hutan. Begitu juga agensi-agensi kerajaan di sana dan juga badan-badan bukan kerajaan  akan sama-sama terlibat di dalam program pembangunan kapasiti ini…

Note:

It is not about comprehensive plans and/or allocation of fund by the Indonesian Government to stop the activities of open burning but real ENFORCEMENT of the ASEAN Agreement and local laws!

It was strange that other countries have signed the “South East Asia Trans Boundaries Haze Pollution Agreement” (SETHA) in 2002 except Indonesia. Indonesia was supposed to sign the SETHA in 2006 but it has not done so until now

Below is news from BERNAMA 20-6-2013 @ 7 pm:

KUALA LUMPUR, June 20 — Recently, civil servant Hazeman Hassan of Bandar Tasik Puteri in Rawang, near here, told his wife not to allow their four-year-old son to play outdoors.

“If possible, you too should not spend too much time outside the house as the air outside is unhealthy,” he reminded his wife.

Last June 16, Malaysia was shrouded in haze as a result of forest fires in Sumatra, Indonesia, leading to unhealthy levels of pollution in some parts of the country.

According to the Department of Environment (DOE), the Air Pollutant Index (API) last Sunday had showed the reading of over 100 in four locations in peninsular Malaysia.

Malacca was badly hit by haze, with the API reading of 161, followed by Port Dickson in Negeri Sembilan at 120, Kemaman in Terengganu (108) and Port Klang in Selangor (103).

Last Sunday, six other locations recorded API levels of less than 100.

They are Putrajaya (94), Kuala Lumpur (87), Petaling Jaya (86), Johor Baru (80), Ipoh (72) and George Town (64).

HAZE

What is the haze all about?

According to environmentalists, haze is a phenomenon where dust, smoke and other dry particles in the atmosphere diminish visibility.

According to the Malaysian Meteorological Department, haze occurs every year during the monsoon season from May to September as winds blow smoke across the Malaccaa Straits, from ‘hot spots’ in Sumatra to Malaysia.

According to the DOE Director-General Halimah Hassan, the department detected 46 hotspots in Sumatra via satellite images last Sunday.

API of 101-200 is considered unhealthy, while 51-100 is moderate. If the reading is below 50, it means that the air is healthy.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has advised the public to reduce the time spent outdoors. He also urged the public to drink plenty of water.

The Prime Minister wrote on his Facebook page that health should remain the public’s top priority, adding that the haze situation in Malaysia is expected to become worse in the coming days with winds carrying smoke from hot spots in Sumatra, Indonesia, to Malaysia.

OPEN BURNING

Haze, caused by fires in Indonesia, builds up during the dry season, affecting tourism and contributing to health problems across the region.

Malaysia has regulations against open burning while Indonesia has forbidden people from burning land.

Between 1997 and 1998, Southeast Asia was badly hit by haze. During that time, the tourism sector, including air travel, and other business activities were affected. Countries in the region lost approximately US$9 billion (RM28.5 billion) because of the disruptions.

Medical authorities have also advised people in the high risk group such as the elderly, children and those with respiratory problems such as asthma to stay indoors and to wear face masks when outdoors.

Physicians have advised people who have breathing difficulties, fever, nausea, dizziness, eye irritation or cough to seek medical attention.

Meanwhile, the Marine Police has advised fishermen in small boats to refrain from going out to sea as visibility in the Straits of Melaka is poor.

According to the Marine Police, “All vessels plying the Melaka Straits should take precautions and navigate with utmost care, while fishing trawlers must switch on their lights for their own safety and for the safety of other vessels.” — BERNAMA

3 thoughts on “Thank you Indonesia for the HAZE!

  1. Ganyang Indonesia! Fed up! Its not haze, its SMOG!!!! Disgusting, apathetic, greedy buggers..what about the Malaysian plantation owners in Indon too?? It has been an annual occurence since FOREVER! its high time to STOP it.

  2. Tuan Wee,
    We (jointly with Singapore and Brunei) could use carbon tax on Indonesian imports for the haze they cause in this region. We could also lobby this carbon tax levy at the international trade to levy carbon tax on all Indonesia palm oil or palm oil related exports as well to apply pressure on their government to intensify their efforts on addressing the haze issues.

    Best Regards,
    Tee Ban Hoe

  3. If it has been a one off haze due to open burning, it is fine. But this has been a yearly event, Malaysian government cannot just ask Indonesian government for help and ban open burning here. A strong diplomatic protest had to be registered so that Indonesian government will take it seriously.

    YB had already tabled a question in 2008 and why this is still happening every year? Too much tidal spa attitude!

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