Malaysia: Small fires by farmers causing Sabah's choking haze

OLIVIA MIWIL New Straits Times 4 Apr 16;

BEAUFORT: Farmers who had started small fires for land-clearing activities on March 27 are responsible for the choking haze in three districts - Beaufort, Papar and Kuala Penyu.

National Resource and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar in a statement today said the fire had spread encompass 20 hectares of peat soil forest reserve at Klias and another 200 hectares at Binsuluk.

The Sabah Fire and Rescue Department took almost a week to bring the fires under control today.

"However, the embers within the peat soils are still emitting thick smoke, causing the haze.

"Cloud seeding operations will be conducted by the Malaysian Meteorology Department and the Royal Malaysian Air Force if the Air Pollutant Index reading exceeds 100 for more than 72 hours," he said.

Wan Junaidi reminded the people not to start fires as they can be charged under Section 29 (A) of the Environment Quality Act.

Members of the public are also urged to help put out small fires or report the incidents to the authorities. As of 3pm, the readings at three districts stood at 143.

The State Education Department had ordered 83 schools at the affected areas to be closed today and tomorrow.

Make it rain: Sabah urges MOSTI to conduct cloud-seeding
OLIVIA MIWIL New Straits Times 4 Apr 16;

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah government is urging the Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry to execute cloud seeding to mitigate the worsening haze situation in the state.

State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun said the people’s health and wellbeing had to be prioritised.

“It is time for the state government to discuss with the federal ministry in implementing cloud seeding to make it rain and improve the hazy situation,” he told a press conference on Sabah Fest 2016 here today.

Three districts of Beaufort, Papar and Kuala Penyu recorded Air Pollutant Index (API) readings between unhealthy and very unhealthy levels today.

Earlier, Masidi said the Sabah Fest, themed “gulu gulu”, would be showcased at the Auditorium Kompleks JKKN Sabah from April 8 to May 1.

The musical will depict ancient warrior Datuk Paduka Mat Salleh fighting the British during colonial rule. Tickets are priced at RM50 each.

Sabah ready for cloud-seeding in bid to end haze
OLIVIA MIWIL New Straits Times 4 Apr 16;

KOTA KINABALU: The Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry (MOSTI) is ready to conduct cloud-seeding in Sabah, said Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman.

"I have spoken to MOSTI minister Datuk Wilfred Madius Tangau and asked him to rectify the situation and possibly conduct cloud-seeding as soon as possible.

"He informed me that they are ready to conduct cloud-seeding but its success depends on the availability and type of clouds," he said in a statement. The Malaysian Meteorological Department and Royal Malaysian Air Force have been put on standby to conduct the exercise.

Musa had also called for a briefing by the State Fire and Rescue Department, Sabah Meteorological Department and the Department of Environment on the worsening haze situation, especially on the west coast of Sabah this morning.

He also directed the State Disaster Relief Committee and respective district level committees to be alert and report any open burning activities.

The Fire and Rescue Department, meanwhile, have been told to be vigilant and ready to spring into action to overcome any emergency situation.

"The situation is worrying because of the diminishing air quality that can cause respiratory problems and poor visibility that could pose a safety risk for air and road traffic.

"People should also limit their outdoor activities due to the poor air quality," he said, advising the public to be responsible and not resort to open burning which would worsen the haze situation.

Musa worried over worsening air quality
MUGUNTAN VANAR The Star 4 Apr 16;

KOTA KINABALU: Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman has expressed concern over the deteriorating air quality and asked for immediate measures to implement cloud seeding in Sabah's west coast.

"The situation is worrying because of the deteriorating air quality, which can cause respiratory problems, poor visibility and pose a danger to air and road traffic,’’ he said in a statement released on Monday after he met officials of the Fire and Rescue Department, the Meteorological Department and the Department of Environment on the worsening haze situation in Sabah.

He said the biggest contributor to the haze was peat forest fires in the Binsuluk forest reserve in Beaufort and Kota Klias.

He said firemen and state Forestry Department personnel are coordinating their efforts to battle the fires in Binsuluk.

"I have spoken to Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk Wilfred Madius Tangau and asked him to rectify the situation and possibly conduct cloud seeding as soon as possible,’’ he said.

Musa also directed the state disaster relief committee and district-level committees to be alert and report any open burning.

"I also ask the public to be responsible and not resort to open burning that would worsen the haze situation.

"The public should also limit outdoor activities due to the poor air quality,’’ he added.

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