Malaysia: Haze expected to return in June -- Environment Minister

The Star 11 May 16;

PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia is expected to experience trans-boundary haze from June until October following the hot and dry weather in Sumatra and Kalimantan in Indonesia, says Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar (pic).

However, the Natural Resource and Environment Minister said the haze might be moderate, as the La Nina phenomenon was expected to occur within the same period and would bring rainfall in some parts of the peninsula.

"Based on a study, conducted by the Singapore-based Asean Specialised Meteorological Centre (ASMC), the hot and dry weather (in Sumatra and Kalimantan, Indonesia) can cause peat fires and the wind will push the smoke towards Malaysia and lead to haze.

"However, rain is expected to occur within the same period and may cause floods in several states especially Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang, which will help reduce the impact of the haze," he told a press conference at his office here Wednesday.

Wan Junaidi said the memorandum of understanding (MoU) between Malaysia and Sumatra province to tackle the perennial trans-boundary haze issues that was signed before would not be implemented, instead the problem would be addressed through government-to-government (G2G) cooperation.

He said the ministry had accepted Indonesia's explanation to discontinue the MoU because it seemed to be ineffective, as tackling the haze problems not only required cooperation from the local government in Sumatra but also from the Indonesian government.

As such, he said a technical meeting would be held on May 30 in Indonesia to discuss the instruments needed under G2G to tackle the trans-boundary haze problems.

In the meantime, Wan Junaidi said the Sub-Regional Ministerial Steering Committee (MSC) on Transboundary Haze Pollution meeting held on Wednesday in Singapore had agreed with Malaysia's proposal to conduct a study to assess the impact of the 2015 haze on the South-East Asian region.

He said the Asean Secretariat had been tasked to collect the relevant data from each member country to identify the impact of the haze on the economy, health and social activities.

Wan Junaidi said he had also informed the matter in the cabinet meeting today and all ministries or agencies affected by the haze had been asked to provide the data or information needed for further action.

"We hope that all the data and information can be collected as soon as possible, which will be submitted to the secretariat and presented to Indonesia," he said. - Bernama

Brace yourselves, the haze is coming next month
FAZLEENA AZIZ New Straits Times 11 May 16;

PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia can expect to experience transboundary haze from next month until October, due to the hot and dry weather in Sumatra and Kalimantan in Indonesia.

However, the severity of the haze is expected to be moderate due to the La Nina phenomenon, which will hit Malaysia within the same period.

Natural Resources and Environment Datuk Seri Wan Dr Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said La Nina is expected to bring heavy rainfall, thus reducing the impact of the haze.

"Based on research by the Asean Specialised Meteorological Centre (ASMC) in Singapore, the La Nina phenomenon may cause floods in some areas in Malaysia including Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang," he told reporters here today.

Wan Junaidi also said the memorandum of understanding (MoU) between Malaysia and Sumatra to tackle the transboundary haze pollution would not be signed; instead the Indonesian government would address the problem through government-to-government (G2G) cooperation.

"Indonesia cannot proceed because the MoU will not be effective as the Sumatra province alone cannot tackle the problem and would require the central Jakarta government's cooperation.

“Thus, the technical committee meeting will be held on May 30 to discuss the instruments needed under G2G to tackle the transboundary haze issue, "he said.

Transboundary haze issue will be tackled govt-to-govt
MAZWIN NIK ANIS The Star 12 May 16;

PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia will have government-to-government cooperation with Indonesia for a more effective way to tackle transboundary haze, instead of just working with provincial authorities, said Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar.

The Natural Resources and Environment Minister said this cooperation was in line with the Asean Transboundary Haze Pollution Agreement signed in 2002.

He said that during the Asean steering committee on transboundary haze pollution meeting in Singapore last week, Indonesia said that it “would not pursue the idea of Malaysia signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with its provincial government.”

Malaysia had planned to sign an MoU with Sumatra on transboundary haze this year.

“Indonesia pointed out that the province alone cannot tackle the issue and help is needed from the government. That is why Indonesia feels that whatever instrument that we want to use to tackle haze must be done government-to-government, instead of with provincial authorities.

“They made a logical point there because when we wanted to provide assistance to help put out forest and peat fires, we discussed with the (Indonesian) President and my counterpart first,” he told reporters after attending the Cabinet meeting yesterday.

Environmental authorities and experts from Malaysia and Indonesia will jointly work on the framework of the co-operation, to be presented at the Asean Environment Ministers’ meeting later this year.

On another matter, the minister said the La Nina phenomenon may soften the impact of the haze expected to envelope the country from next month when it is hot and dry in Sumatra and Kalimantan.

This usually triggered forest and peat fires, and the wind blew the smoke towards Malaysia, causing haze, he said.

“But with La Nina expected to occur around the same time, we hope it can help clear the smog so that the condition will not be so adverse,” he added.

While La Nina may offer some respite, it can also cause a different type of problem – floods.

“We saw the effect of La Nina in 2014, when the water levels rose in Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang,” said Wan Junaidi.

He added the relevant agencies and authorities were making the necessary preparations to deal with any eventuality.

La Nina is expected to bring rainfall to most parts of the country from July to September.

Wan Junaidi also said Indonesia has assured that the massive fires of last year, which resulted in Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Brunei experiencing adverse haze condition, would not recur this year.

Haze has become an almost annual problem for Malaysia, due to forest and peat fires in Indonesia.

The problem worsened last year with the Air Pollution Index (API) breaching the hazardous level in several states.

The situation posed problems not only for the Malaysia’s aviation and maritime sectors, it also caused schools in Sarawak, Selangor, Negri Sembilan, Malacca, Kelantan, and the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya to be temporarily closed.

Major outdoor events were cancelled due to the poor air quality.

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