PETALING JAYA - Malaysia is taking pro-active steps to stop the haze from worsening with the increase in the number of hotspots in the region, especially Sumatra in Indonesia.
With the southwest monsoon wind blowing smoke into the country, the authorities are determined to prevent the situation from deteriorating with our own open burning.
The Department of Environment (DOE) is deploying more enforcement officers to check open burning and look out for motor vehicles emitting excessive smoke.
The officers will be "busy" in cities like Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh and Johor, said Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Douglas Uggah Embas.
"But the main issue here is transboundary haze, which is why I will make a strong appeal to Indonesia to reduce the number of its hotspots when I attend the meeting (of the Sub-Regional Ministerial Steering Committee on Transboundary Haze Pollution) next month," he told The Star yesterday.
The preparation to tackle the haze followed the poor air quality in several areas in the country, especially Port Klang, Alor Setar, Langkawi and Kangar which all recorded unhealthy levels on Sunday.
The situation improved only slightly yesterday.
In Port Klang, for example, the Air Pollutant Index (API) was 106 at 7am, 117 at 11am and 115 at 5pm on Sunday, compared to 84, 78 and 76 respectively yesterday, according to the DOE website.
DOE director-general Halimah Hassan said the unhealthy API level in Selangor was partly due to open burning in Cyberjaya and Klang as well as peat soil fires in Bestari Jaya.
"The dry spell compounds the problem," she added.
She reminded the public that the ban on open burning imposed in June for Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and parts of Miri was still in force.
She urged anyone coming across open burning to contact the Fire and Rescue Department at 999 or call the DOE hotline 1-800-88-2727.