Wednesday, October 27

MoU on transboundary haze in the works — D-G

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KUCHING: Malaysia and Indonesia are currently drafting a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) as part of a collaborative effort to prevent and control air pollution, particularly those caused by open burning activities.

Department of Environment (JAS) Malaysia director-general Datuk Halimah Hassan said the bilateral collaboration is mainly to tackle the issue of transboundary haze between the two countries.

“At the moment, the weather in Kalimantan, Sabah and Sarawak is quite dry, and there are many hotspots caused by open burning, specifically in Kalimantan.

“If the haze comes from Indonesia, we need a bilateral collaboration that will enable us to seek cooperation from the Indonesian government to take action in terms of putting out and controlling the burning,” she told reporters after officiating the state-level Malaysian Environmental Week (MASM) and Environmental Quality (Clean Air) Regulations Seminar 2014 at a leading hotel yesterday.

Halimah also pointed out that the government was working with Singapore, Thailand, Brunei and Indonesia in discussing actions that could be taken on transboundary haze.

She also noted that the government is also involved in the Asean Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution.

“All Asean countries have signed this agreement, apart from Indonesia. Nevertheless, the Indonesian parliament recently stated that they are rectifying this pollution issue and we hope that Indonesia will take a more proactive action in solving the air pollution issue,” she said.

Meanwhile, when asked to comment on the cause of haze in the country, Halimah said that enforcement involving JAS and the Natural Resources and Environment Board (NREB) would carry out surveillance and monitor the situation during the dry season.

“Those caught carrying out open burning will face legal action,” she warned.