Friday, July 1

Transboundary haze standing committee to meet earlier

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MIRI: The Ministerial Standing Committee for Transboundary Haze involving Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore will meet earlier than scheduled in view of the prolonged dry season.

Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Dato Sri Douglas Uggah Embas yesterday said the standing committee was originally scheduled for September in Brunei.

“I had a bilateral meeting with the Minister of Environment Brunei and Minister of Water and Environment Singapore in Rio. The three of us agreed to meet earlier than scheduled so that we can review each other’s strategy to overcome this (haze) problem as it was forecast that for the next couple of months, especially in August and September, the weather is going to be drier,” Uggah said prior to visiting the peat swamp fire site in Permyjaya yesterday.

He said the haze experienced here has not spread to Brunei.

“I met the Minister of Energy Brunei while in Rio, who said that the haze hasn’t spread to that country. I think the wind has saved us and it is confined in our area only. Therefore, there is no transboundary haze between Miri and Brunei.”

Meanwhile, Uggah denied claims that the Fire and Rescue Department has not worked to put out the fire.

He stressed that all departments and agencies are working, cooperating with and supporting each other.

“There is a need for a review in the standard operating procedures. In this context, the government in March has instructed all the agencies to mobilise all the machinery and to be prepared and ready for the dry season,” he added.

He said the government has also instructed all states to look into all facilities and equipment for firefighting.

On the proposal for the Department of Environment (DOE) to have its own helicopter for monitoring and surveillance works, Uggah said he would discuss the matter during the cabinet meeting.