Malaysia: High-Level Discussion Needed To Address Transboundary Haze Issues - Lee Lam Thye

Bernama 11 Mar 16;

KUALA LUMPUR, March 11 (Bernama) -- A high-level discussion is needed to address the transboundary haze issues and find ways to solve the problem once and for all, said social activist, Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye.

Lee, who is also Malaysian Crime Prevention Foundation vice president, said there should be bilateral talks between Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and Indonesian President Joko Widodo.

"The bilateral memorandum of understanding (MoU) was proposed after all ASEAN members ratified the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution.

"It was reported that the MoU between Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta was scheduled to be signed on Sept 18 last year but was postponed to Sept 25 before being delayed again. Until now, no new date has been set for the signing of the MoU," he said in a statement here, today.

Lim said it was heartening to note that Natural Resources and Environment (NRE) Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar was doing his best to get both sides to sign the MOU but the minister had yet to receive any response from his counterpart.

Earlier on Monday, Indonesia's western province of Riau has declared a state of emergency over forest and land fires blazing on the island of Sumatra.

The report sparked fears of a recurrence of haze in the country.

"Malaysia should avoid a repeat of last year's haze at all cost. Last year, the thick haze, which enveloped the country from August to October, was one of the worst in Malaysia," he added.

Lee also commented on the report from the Meteorological Department that said the forest fires in Riau should not be an immediate concern as the northeasterly wind would not bring the haze particles to Malaysia.

"But what will happen in May and June when the winds change direction?

"Malaysia has to be pro-active and take preventive action as the haze issue is one of great concern for everyone because it affects the whole country in terms of people's health, healthcare expenses, environment, economy and many others," he said.

The NRE ministry also needed to expedite the implementation of the law, to make parties responsible for causing air pollution in Malaysia accountable for their actions in neighbouring countries such as illegally burning forests and peatlands, he said.

-- BERNAMA


Malaysia must take lead in tackling haze issue
The Star 12 Mar 16;

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia must be proactive in preventing the perennial haze, because it comes with great cost to health, environment and the economy, said social activist Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye (pic).

“Time is not on our side. Malaysia has to take the lead and get Asean to work on measures to prevent or mitigate this transboundary pollution,” he said in a statement.

Urging for strong political will and commitment from each Asean member, he suggested that the association of nations set a target – that the region be haze-free in the next three to five years.

“Images of a grey sky, low visibility, polluted air, respiratory problems, school closures and flight delays during last year’s crisis are still vivid in everyone’s minds.

“Malaysia should avoid a repeat of this at all cost,” he said.

Lee praised Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar for trying to get Indonesia to agree to address the issue.

“Regrettably, the minister has yet to receive any response from his counterpart despite sending nearly 10 letters,” he said.

A bilateral memorandum of understanding (MoU) was proposed after Asean ratified the Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution.

Lee called on Malaysia and Indonesia to ensure the MoU was signed as soon as possible so that bilateral measures and actions to solve the issue could be expedited.

He said the Meteorological Depart­ment had reported that ­forest fires in Riau should not be an immediate concern because the winds are not blowing towards Malaysia.

“But what will happen in May and June when the winds change direction?

“If need be, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak should get in touch with Indonesian President Joko Widodo to get things going.”

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