KUALA LUMPUR: Public awareness is crucial in resolving the haze issue, specifically in Malaysia, said Institute of Islamic Understanding Malaysia's (Ikim) Centre for Science and Environment Studies director, Dr Shaikh Mohd Saifuddeen Shaikh Mohd Salleh.
He said traditional farming methods practised by the indigenous people of Indonesia, and its palm oil industry had contributed a lot to air pollution.
“There is nothing wrong with embarking on economic growth but it has to be done with full responsibility and integrity as everyone plays a significant role in preserving the environment.
“We cannot just pass the buck to the government and NGOs (non-governmental organisations) when it comes to caring for our environment.
“Malaysia is usually at the receiving end and would get the haze from Indonesia. Although haze is also caused by vehicles and open burning, I understand that the amount of smoke released by these sort of activities is minimal compared to the burning of forests,” he told a press conference during the Expert Group Consultation (EGC) on Bioethical Perspective of Haze in Malaysia.
“Unlike Indonesia, forest burning is not practised in Malaysia. I understand that palm oil is an important commodity, generating jobs and improving the economy. However, it is important for us to find a balance between protecting the environment and economic prosperity,” he added.
Dr Shaikh Mohd Saifuddeen described haze as a transboundary issue, that resulted in difficulties to tackle the problem, as it involves a number of countries.
“We are trying to look for the best ways to solve this issue. In December, the Unesco Jakarta office will have a workshop involving Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore,” he said, adding that there had been dialogues and discussions held between the Malaysian and Indonesian governments on the issue.
Earlier, Ikim Director-General Prof Datuk Dr Azizan Baharuddin said the programme was an important collaboration between the Unesco Jakarta office, Ikim, the Academy of Sciences Malaysia (ASM), as well as researchers from the University of Malaya.
“For Ikim, efforts such as this is of great significance as it allows us to share indigenous views and inputs towards discourses on ethics, especially as specified by the universal declaration on bioethics and human rights, as well as the devastating effects of haze towards human health.
“In this respect, our sincere hope is that today’s programme will enable an exchange and sharing of experiences, knowledge and ideas among all of us and that our interaction will be beneficial to all in enhancing our understanding of each other, while creating a better future by taking into account the local and indigenous contexts,” she added. — Bernama