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Malaysia to send diplomatic note to Indonesia over forest fires

Channel News Asia - September 6, 2019

Kuching, Sarawak – Putrajaya will send a diplomatic note to Jakarta to request it takes immediate action to put out forest fires in Indonesia, as air quality deteriorated in parts of Sarawak.

Deputy Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Isnaraissah Munirah Majilis said on Friday (Sep 6) that satellite images from a day before showed a total of 1,393 hotspots in Indonesia – 306 in Sumatra and 1,087 in Kalimantan – compared to 17 in Malaysia.

"Cross-border haze is the main cause of smog shrouding the country," she said.

Ms Isnaraissah, who was speaking to reporters after a briefing on haze at the Sarawak Department of Environment, said the diplomatic note was being drafted and would be sent as soon as possible.

She added that Malaysia had not received a request from Indonesia to help put out the fires.

The deputy minister noted that a Sub-Regional Ministerial Steering Committee on Transboundary Haze Pollution met on Aug 6, and the countries involved – Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand – had pledged to work together to address the haze pollution.

"Hopefully, with our action of sending the diplomatic note and cooperation from all countries involved, the situation can be alleviated," she was quoted as saying by the Star.

According to the state disaster management committee, six areas in Sarawak recorded unhealthy air as of 9am on Friday.

Sri Aman's Air Pollutant Index (API) reading was 166, followed by Miri at 133, Kuching 125, Sibu 123, Samarahan 120 and Sarikei 109. An API between 101 and 200 is generally viewed as being in the unhealthy range.

Ms Isnaraissah said the authorities would investigate the hotspots detected in the country.

She also warned the public against open burning as the hot spell was expected to last until October. – CNA/Bernama/tx(mi)

Source: https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asia/malaysia-indonesia-diplomatic-note-haze-forest-fires-sarawak-1188045