PUTRAJAYA: The haze is unlikely to return this year due to good weather and strong winds, Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said today.
Wan Junaidi told a press conference at his ministry that even if the haze occurs, it will not be as bad as it was in 2015 when parts of Malaysia reached an Air Pollution Index rate of above 200, the “very unhealthy” mark.
“We are very likely to be haze-free this year. Even if it comes, it will not be as serious as before. Nevertheless, the Department of Environment (DOE) warned against open burning,” he said, adding that haze can also be caused by local fires.
He said this is because weather patterns will likely be better than those of 2014 and 2015, when Asean was engulfed in haze caused by peat land fires in Indonesia.
Wan Junaidi said the weather will not be as dry and the Meteorological Department (MET) derived this conclusion by monitoring temperatures in the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean.
“There will be no drought this year, and phenomenons such as El Nino and La Nina are not expected to repeat itself. The weather pattern will be similar to last year,” he said.
Furthermore, Wan Junaidi said, MET also forecasts that winds will likely be blowing in a south-eastern direction as opposed to north-west during the worst of the haze disaster and will limit any impact of haze, should it occur again.
Meanwhile, he said Indonesian authorities are on standby to extinguish peat land fires in their country should any occur to prevent them from raging out of control.
Wan Junaidi said Indonesia has created an Asean Coordinating Centre for Transboundary Haze Pollution for information sharing with neighbouring countries, which will speed up reactionary measures.
He said Indonesia had assured Malaysia that it has the necessary equipment to fight forest fires but Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak insisted on offering Malaysia’s assistance anyway.