Malaysia: Thank you Indonesia, for the absence of haze this year

BERNAMA New Straits Times 25 Aug 16;

PUTRAJAYA: Immediate action by the Indonesian authorities to put out forest fires before it spread managed to curb the recurrence of cross border haze this year.

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said rainfall in Sumatra and Kalimantan, Indonesia also prevented forest fires.

He said Indonesia's President Joko Widodo and his Environment and Forestry Minister Dr Siti Nurbaya Baka had promised Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, who recently contacted them on their efforts to deal with the forest fires and haze.

“Indonesia is keeping their promise. I hope the conditions will continue up to October when the wind changes (from the southwest to the northeast).

One more month to go, hopefully nothing worse than this happens,” he told the media after attending his ministry's monthly gathering here today.

According to the Department of Environment (DOE) portal, 12 places recorded moderate Air Pollutant Index (API) readings and 35 good API readings up to 1 pm today.

Last year forest fires in Indonesia caused cross border haze to badly hit the country, aggravated by the prevailing southwest monsoon wind.

On the female baby panda Nuan Nuan, Wan Junaidi said the ministry and Zoo Negara had not held discussions to extend the period of keeping the offspring of giant pandas Xing Xing and Liang Liang from China after next year.

"Operating costs may be high and not worth it in terms of visitors' return. They (Zoo Negara) should approach and discuss with us if they think they cannot afford to maintain the panda," he said. He said it was also a symbol of Malaysia-China diplomatic relations and the decision to extend the panda's stay or otherwise would be made by the Cabinet.

According to the Giant Panda Protection and Research Programme agreed by Malaysia and China, Zoo Negara has to pay a one-off cost of rental amounting to US$600,000 (RM2.4 million) for the baby panda which does not include its annual insurance premium at RM200,000. - BERNAMA

Indonesia reducing transboundary haze
MAZWIN NIK ANIS The Star 26 Aug 16;

PUTRAJAYA: It looks like Indonesia is keeping its word to contain incidents of transboundary haze with just a small number of hotspots found in the country.

Natural Resources and Environ­ment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said there had been positive response and commitment from Indonesia in addressing the haze situation.

He said compared with previous years, only a few hotspots were found in Sumatra and West Kaliman­tan so far this year.

“Indonesia is keeping its word to ensure forest fires and slash-and-burn activities on agricultural land are not rampant. We are pleased to see real efforts being made to minimise transboundary haze, which has affected its neighbours for years,” Dr Wan Junaidi told reporters after the ministry’s monthly gathering.

He added that significant rainfall was also helping the Indonesian authorities to minimise the haze.

The Air Pollutant Index for 27 locations in the country was good, with six recording moderate readings and most other areas recording very good readings.

Indonesia had given its assurance to Malaysia to tackle the issue during discussions held between Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and President Joko Widodo.

During the recent Asean environment ministers’ meeting, Indonesia said 3,000 military and police personnel had been put on watch to monitor forest fires and open burning.

On another matter, Dr Wan Junaidi said there had yet to be any discussion to extend baby panda Nuan Nuan’s stay here after next year.

“We are aware of the costs incurred by Zoo Negara to keep the baby panda, but the decision to either return (to China) or extend its stay needs to be done by the Cabinet,” he said.

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