Malaysia, 4 Asean nations reach consensus on transboundary haze

by S BIRRUNTHA/ pic by TMR FILE

FIVE Asean-member countries including Malaysia have agreed to enhance regional cooperation in minimising any occurrence of haze during the hot and dry weather between August and October.

In a statement yesterday, the Ministry of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change (MESTECC) said the consensus was reached at the 21st Sub-Regional Ministerial Steering Meeting Committee (MSC) on Transboundary Haze Pollution in Brunei Darussalam last Tuesday.

“The MSC has also agreed to improve cross-border coordination through the implementation of programmes with international collaboration involving tackling haze pollution, permanent forest management and conservation of peat land,” it said.

The annual meeting was joined by four other Asean-member countries; namely Brunei, Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand. Malaysia was led by MESTECC Deputy Minister Isnaraissah Munirah Majilis.

MESTECC also said the committee have agreed on increasing cooperation in handling the regional haze issue through the implementation of the Transboundary Haze Action Plan.

The MSC-member countries have also stated their willingness to provide technical assistance in the form of equipment and manpower when needed in the event of a large-scale forest fire that causes haze, it said.

The ministry also said that the committee has renewed its commitment to achieving the goal of a “Haze-Free Asean” by 2020 and to continue with capacity development and training programmes for personnel to combat transboundary haze.

“The MSC had also discussed a report by the Singapore-based Asean Specialised Meteorological Centre which said that the region is expected to experience neutral weather conditions without El Nino or La Nina between the three months this year,” it noted.

At the domestic level, the ministry said Malaysia has included the implementation of the National Open Burning Action Plan, which is a collaborative effort involving various ministries, departments and agencies at the federal and state level.

Meanwhile, according to the Department of Environment’s Air Pollutant Index website, the Indera Mahkota station in Kuantan, Pahang, was the only one registered an “Unhealthy” level with 106 points as at 5pm yesterday.

The remaining 67 from the 68 stations monitored by the Department of Environment were at a “Moderate” level.

The Kemaman station in Terengganu had been bouncing between the “Unhealthy” and “Moderate” levels yesterday before registering 97 points at 5pm, while the Tawau station in Sabah had moved from “Good” to “Moderate” level.

According to the website, below 50 points indicate good air quality, 51-100 (moderate), 101-200 (unhealthy), 201-300 (very unhealthy), and more than 300 (hazardous).