Saturday, October 19

Haze not from Indonesia? Let data speak for itself, Bee Yin tells counterpart

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KUCHING: Malaysia’s environment minister Yeo Bee Yin has shot back at her Indonesian counterpart, Siti Nurbaya Bakar, for denying that haze from her country was blanketing Malaysia and blaming it instead on fires in Sarawak and the Peninsula.

“Let the data speak for itself,” she said in a terse Facebook post last night, while sharing satellite images from the Singapore-based Asean Specialised Meteorological Centre (ASMC) that showed the location of hotspots and the weather pattern in the region.

Yeo, who is Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister, pointed out that according to ASMC’s latest data, there were 474 hotspots in Kalimantan, 387 in Sumatera and only seven in Malaysia.

“As for her claim that the haze is from Sarawak, just look at the wind direction. (Image 4). How is it logically possible?,” she asked, pointing to an image which showed the wind blowing over hotspots in Kalimantan towards Sarawak.

“Minister Siti Nurbaya should not be in denial,” Yeo concluded.

The Indonesian Environmental Affairs and Forestry Minister was reported to have said yesterday that she was planning to send a protest note to the Malaysian Ambassador as the country had not been honest with its data.

“Asap yang masuk ke Malaysia, ke Kuala Lumpur, itu dari Serawak kemudian dari Semenanjung Malaya, dan juga mungkin sebagian dari Kalimantan Barat. Oleh karena itu seharusnya obyektif menjelaskannya. (The smoke that entered Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, is from Sarawak and from Peninsular Malaysia, and also maybe some from West Kalimantan. Therefore, they should be objective in explaining it),” she said in a report by the Indonesian newspaper Kompas.

On Monday, Yeo had said that the root of the haze problem was the fires in Indonesia and that her ministry was working the Foreign Affairs Ministry to send diplomatic notes to the Indonesian government on the urgency to put out the fires.

She also said that Malaysia was ready to offer any kind of assistance to help Indonesia put out the fires in Kalimantan and Sumatera.

Meanwhile, Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas, who heads the state’s disaster management committee, expressed shock at Siti Nurbaya’s claim.

“If what she said is true, this is really shocking! If you see the satellite map, obviously it showed where the haze came from,” he had told MalaysiaKini yesterday.

The air quality continues to improve in Sarawak today with only one station, Sri Aman, recording an unhealthy air pollutant index (API) reading of 159. All of the Department of Environment’s other monitoring stations recorded moderate readings.

An API reading of zero to 50 is good, 51 to 100 is moderate, 101 to 200 is unhealthy, 201 to 300 is very unhealthy and 300 and above is hazardous.