Malaysia is considering various ways to stop the smoke invasion causing massive air pollution in the Asean region and it will push for a long-term solution while Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad says his country will take firm action against Malaysian companies involved in the fires outside the country.
Indonesia has denied it is responsible for the haze that has enveloped Malaysia, deteriorating the air quality and forcing thousands of schools to close down.
Indonesian politicians have hit back at Malaysian ruling coalition leaders saying there is no evidence the haze from Indonesia reached Malaysia. This sparked a tit-for-tat response from Malaysian authorities, bringing satellite evidence that there are transborder movements of smoke from Indonesia.
Malaysia says there are no laws that can force the Malaysian companies to extinguish fires in areas they are responsible for, but Mahathir said the country may bring in fresh legislation that will make it possible to take local companies involved in such havoc into account.
Indonesia’s Ministry of Environment and Forestry revealed it sealed the land of 42 companies in relation to forest and land fires. Of that, one is from Singapore and three other companies are from Malaysia.
PM Mahathir said that the Malaysian side had taken several steps to overcome the effects of haze, such as triggering artificial rain, suggesting residents stay indoors and close schools.
However, he said, new ways are needed to reduce haze.
“We have taken these steps, but we need to find our own ways to reduce the haze. I think triggering artificial rain is one of them, but maybe we also need to spray water in certain places to reduce the haze,” he said.
Meanwhile, the country is working hard to push its Southeast Asian neighbours to strengthen cooperation in finding a long-term solution for smog across the region, its environment minister said yesterday (Sept 19).
“I will have a conference call with the Asean secretary-general to raise our views and also express our hope for a more effective mechanism at the Asean level for a long-term solution,” Environment Minister Yeo Bee Yin told a news conference but did not elaborate on other participants.
Malaysia will also consider deploying drones to help in cloud seeding, Mahathir told a separate news conference.
The country believes it is one of the most severely hit by the haze and it says it has evidence most of the smoke comes from Indonesian forest and land fires. -/TISG
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