Malaysia: Wind on our side, so don't worry about Indonesian haze for now

NICHOLAS CHENG The Star 9 Mar 16;

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysians need not worry about the return of the haze after Indonesia declared a state of emergency in the Riau province in Sumatra over forest and land fires.

Meteorological Department director-general Datuk Che Gayah Ismail said the country should be safe from transboundary haze, at least for now, due to the northeast monsoon.

“The wind is blowing in the northeast direction, meaning that whatever smoke that is coming from Indonesia won’t be blown to Malaysia.

“That will last until March and in April it will be the inter-monsoon, when the wind will be light and variable and we will have more rainfall, especially in the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia.

"It's in May or June when the southwest monsoon comes when we have to worry,” Che Gayah said.

On Tuesday, it was reported that the Riau provincial government declared an emergency due to the fires but said it was a precautionary measure to prevent a repeat of the 2015 haze.

The air pollutant index (API) readings across the country showed moderate to good air quality as of 2pm Wednesday.

However, firemen nationwide are battling to control as many as eight hotspots in the country.

The Fire and Rescue Department said, while the fires, mostly Pahang and Kelantan, were still manageable, the situation could get out of hand due to the prolonged dry season.

According to the Asean Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution website, one hotspot was detected in Sumatra, while Pahang has three.

Kelantan and Negri Sembilan recorded two forest fires while Sabah recorded one.

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said the fires in Malaysia were still manageable, expressing more concern over the fires in Riau.

“We have more hotspots but they are smaller than in Indonesia. We have our enforcement officers on the ground to extinguish them and we are moving fast.

"Indonesia is struggling at the moment. If Indonesia were to ask for help, we can still assist them," he said.


No need to worry about haze, yet
NICHOLAS CHENG The Star 10 Mar 16;

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysians need not worry about the haze returning despite fires burning in Riau, Sumatra, and in parts of Malaysia – at least until May.

Meteorological Department director-general Datuk Che Gayah Ismail said Malaysia was safe from the choking smog from Sumatra because of the north-east monsoon.

“The wind is blowing from the north-east direction, meaning whatever haze that is coming from Indo­nesia won’t be blown to Malaysia.

“That will last until March and April will see the inter monsoon, where the wind will be light and variable and we will have more rainfall, especially in the west coast of peninsular Malaysia.

“It’s in May or June when the south-west monsoon comes that we have to worry,” she said.

Air pollutant index readings across the country were moderate to good as of 2pm yesterday.

Indonesia is also on guard over the forest and land fires , having declared a state of emergency in Riau, which the provincial government said was a precautionary measure to prevent a repeat of the 2015 haze.

Che Gayah said, for the time being, Malaysia’s only worry about haze was those produced from within its borders, as firemen nationwide work to battle as many as 11 raging hotspots in the country.

The Fire and Rescue Department said that the Malaysian fires – mostly in Pahang, Kelantan and Sabah – were still manageable but the situation could get out of hand fast if the prolonged dry season continued.

“Just yesterday, we had 34 bush fires reported by 2pm. If the hot weather continues, there will definitely be more. But these are small fires that we can contain and put out fast,” said the department’s deputy director-general (operations) Datuk Soiman Jahid.

He said the biggest fire raging now was in Sepang near the 27.4km mark of the Elite Highway, where 1.62ha of peat soil was still burning.

Officers have been battling the fires there for a week now.

Natural Resources and Environ­ment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said fires in Malaysia were still manageable and expressed more concern over the fires in Riau.

“We have more hotspots but they are smaller than in Indonesia. We have our enforcement officers on the ground to extinguish them and we are moving fast. Indonesia is struggling at the moment. If they were to ask for help, we can assist their mission if the need arises,” he said.

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