KUALA LUMPUR (Oct 10, 2006): The Indonesian embassy today expressed regret for the smog that is blanketing Malaysia and causing difficulties to the people here.
"We regret the smog in our country is causing difficulties here. We are taking all measures to reduce the smog generated by hotspots in Indonesia, particularly in Kalimantan and Sumatra," the embassy said in a statement issued to the DAP after receiving a memorandum from the party.
"Our government is having difficulties fighting the hotspots in the two locations. The primary reason being that the hotspots are located in areas made up of peat soil which was difficult to put out."
The embassy added: "The lack of proper clouds had also thwarted our efforts to conduct cloud-seeding. Despite these setbacks, a total of 1,058 local firemen are undertaking efforts to douse the hotspots as best they could.
"The Asean Transboundary Haze Agreement is also in the midst of being processed for ratification. It is currently being debated in Parliament."
Earlier, in the morning, the DAP demanded that Jakarta ratifies the agreement for the region to comply with the Asean Regional Haze Action Plan.
"This will allow national plans to be developed to prevent and mitigate land and forest fires, including the prohibition of open burning and strict control of slash-and-burn practices during the dry period," said party secretary-general Lim Guan Eng.
He spoke to reporters after submitting a memorandum to the embassy. Lim and his entourage of party leaders were received by deputy ambassador Abdul Rahman Muhammad Fachir.
"We urge your government to ratify the agreement now, punish the offenders and demand compensation for the annual smog disaster that has caused devastating billion-dollar economic losses, loss of life and severely affecting the health and lifestyle of Malaysians," Lim said.
The agreement was agreed in 2002 and enforced in 2003. It has since been ratified by all the Asean countries, except Indonesia.
"Refusal to ratify is incomprehensible, irresponsible and an unfriendly act when your government's past repeated assurances of action preventing a recurrence of the smog nightmare have been hopelessly ineffective," he said.
Improving, thanks to change in wind directions
A change in wind directions has helped to reduce the smog blanketing the peninsula and improve visibility and air quality.
The Malaysian Meteorological Service Department reported gradual improvement of the smog conditions in the central and southern regions because of "more convective activities" in the regions.
"However, as the winds over these areas are still blowing from the southeasterly and southwesterly, the coastal areas of Pahang, Johor and Malacca are still experiencing intermittent smoggy conditions," it said.
The department recorded visibility at between 1.5m and 3.5km in Sepang, Temerloh and Malacca at 2pm.
The number of hotspots for Sumatra and Kalimantan could not be detected because of thick smog and clouds over the region but the department, in its table of daily number of hotspots found 25 in Sumatra and 38 in Borneo (mainly in Kalimantan).
The smog in the northern region is expected to improve with the current wind conditions while the southern and central parts will have to hope for a change in the wind direction as it is blowing from the west and southwesterly direction.
The Department of Environment (DOE) in its 11am reading reported only six areas as good, 41 moderate and two unhealthy API.
Kuala Selangor and Nilai were categorised in the unhealthy group with readings of 117 and 106 respectively while Shah Alam (98), Kuala Lumpur (96) and Kajang (88) followed suit.
Petaling Jaya recorded API of 85 while Balok Baru in Kuantan had an API of 81.
The readings showed a general improvement from the 5pm report for Monday which recorded 13 unhealthy ratings, 33 as moderate and four areas in the good API indications.