Indonesia denies accusations of transboundary haze crossing into Malaysia

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Photo showing the hazy state in Kuala Lumpur. — Bernama photo

JAKARTA (Oct 2): The Indonesian government, through the Ministry of Environment and Forestry (KLHK), has denied allegations regarding haze from forest and land fires (karhutla) in Indonesia crossing into Malaysia. Minister of Environment and Forestry, Siti Nurbaya Bakar, stated in an official statement in Jakarta on Monday that Malaysia’s complaint about Indonesian haze is not accurate.

“We have been monitoring the situation, and there is no transboundary haze reaching Malaysia,” said Minister Siti Nurbaya.

Regarding the imagery of haze crossing borders, her ministry received reports of haze distribution imagery from the Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) and The Asean Specialised Meteorological Centre (ASMC) for the period from September 28 to 30, 2023, up until yesterday afternoon at 16:00 WIB (Western Indonesian Time).

According to her, there is no transboundary haze from Indonesia crossing into Malaysia. Based on ASMC’s observations, she said that for several days, haze was moderately to densely observed in several areas in Sumatra and Kalimantan. On October 1, 2023, the haze began to thicken in Central Kalimantan (Kalteng) and South Sumatra (Sumsel). Nevertheless, there was no observed cross-border haze.

ASMC is a regional collaborative programme among the National Meteorological Services (NMSs) of Asean member countries. ASMC operates under the Singapore Meteorological Service.

Meanwhile, based on satellite observations by the Indonesian Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysics Agency (BMKG), the imagery of haze distribution in Indonesian regions over those three days showed haze detected in several areas in Sumatra and Kalimantan. The prevailing wind direction in Indonesia is generally from the south-east to the north-west and north-east, and no cross-border haze has been detected.

“So it’s clear, both sources confirm that there is no cross-border haze,” said Minister Siti Nurbaya.

Furthermore, she mentioned that there are various notes from various parties that need attention. Currently, the Indonesian government is continuing its efforts to extinguish fires burning in forests and peatlands in South Sumatra, Central Kalimantan, South Kalimantan, and several other regions on the islands of Sumatra and Kalimantan, as well as parts of Java.

Various operations are being carried out to extinguish the fires, ranging from ground firefighting to water bombing and weather modification technology.

KLHK has revealed that 203 companies have received warnings, and 20 companies have been sealed due to their involvement in the fires, including subsidiaries of Malaysian companies.

“The Indonesian government continues to work hard to address this (karhutla) issue,” said Minister Siti Nurbaya. — Bernama/Antara