Wednesday, September 23

Mestecc urged to convene meetings with stakeholders to address haze situation in S’wak

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Dr Kelvin Yii

KUCHING: Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii has suggested for the Ministry of Energy, Science, Technology and Climate Change (Mestecc) to convene further meetings with stakeholders including counterparts from Indonesia to address the persistent haze situation in Sarawak.

Dr Yii felt there was a need for the reconvening of the Southeast Asia Nations (Asean) Ministerial Committee to enforce the existing understanding between different nations in relation to the Haze Agreement 2002 and taking innovative steps to overcome the problem.

This was especially pertinent in respect of the global climate change happening and the shifting of capital of Indonesia to Kalimantan as announced recently.

“While it is important for the different countries to have an understanding, but it is also important to have an enforcement mechanism to keep the different countries in check,” said Dr Kelvin Yii in a press statement today.

He added the Ministry of Education had given their assurance that they were keeping tabs on the haze situation in the state but admitted that it was difficult to postpone a national examination like the ongoing Ujian Penilaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR) examination held from Sept 4 to 12 unless the haze affected the whole region.

However, the standard operating procedures (SOPs) in place known as ‘Ops Topeng’ would be implemented in the case of continuous unhealthy air pollution index (API) during the nationwide examination.

In light of the worsening haze situation, Dr Yii said the necessary operation room would be activated in each school to coordinate any other necessary efforts including referring students to the nearest healthcare facilities in case of any symptoms.

“The parents will also be briefed to take the necessary precautions including limiting the time of their children even in school for the exam.”

Across the state, the API readings had reached unhealthy levels for the past few days and Dr Yii opined this had affected schooling children, infants and pregnant mothers who were more at risk.

“I was informed that State Education Department was provided with 50,000 face masks on Saturday that will be distributed to the students all around Sarawak.”

He added that his office had distributed about 4,000 face masks to the different schools in his constituency a few weeks back and he would continue to monitor the haze situation to protect the welfare of both students and teachers.

“In my constituency, I am in contact with all the schools and will be visiting some of them to further distribute more mask for the students.”

Dr Kelvin Yii advised the public to stay indoors if possible and stay hydrated at all time while ensuring any activities of open burning should be refrained from being carrying out during this time.

“While majority of hot spots are detected in Indonesia based on the Asean Specialise Meteorological Centre, there are also hotspots detected here in Malaysia, that is why we all play our part,” he said.

Nonetheless, Dr Yii thanked all different departments for coordinating efforts to keep the situation under control, especially the Fire and Rescue Department, Health Department, Meteorological Department and other agencies.