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Malaysia voices concern over haze situation with Indonesian officials

KUALA LUMPUR (Sept 11): Malaysia has reiterated its concern on the impact of persistent transboundary haze to the Malaysian public and its offer to assist Indonesia in extinguishing forest fires in Kalimantan and Sumatera.

This was conveyed at a meeting yesterday led by Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin with Indonesian embassy's Minister Counsellor Agus Badrul Jamal and Counsellor for Information, Social and Cultural Affairs, Agung Cahaya Sumirat.

She was joined at the meeting by officials from her ministry as well as the Foreign Ministry.

“On the diplomatic front, we received updates from the Foreign Ministry that Malaysian ambassador to Indonesia Zainal Abidin Bakar had met up with Indonesian senior officials yesterday to discuss the transboundary haze currently affecting Malaysia,” she said in a statement posted on Facebook.

According to Yeo, the Indonesian government was coordinating with relevant institutions to ensure concerted actions were taken to address the root cause of the problem.

Indonesia, she said, had conveyed its commitment to managing the transboundary haze issue including by deploying 1,994 personnel in Sumatera and 860 personnel in Kalimantan with another 1,677 volunteers having been roped in to help extinguish the forest fires.

Yeo said 16 helicopters were used in Kalimantan to execute water bombings in strategic spots while enforcement teams were apprehending those responsible for illegal burning activities.

The minister noted that the dry spell and the southwest monsoon season had further worsened the impact of transboundary haze in Malaysia.

“The government will continue to do cloud-seeding whenever the situation allows and send assistance to Indonesia if and when they accept the offer (of assistance),” she said.

She observed that over the past week, a tremendous number of hotspots were seen in Malaysia while Kalimantan and Sumatera recorded 811 and 247 hotspots, respectively. 

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