PUTRAJAYA, Jul 27 –¬†Indonesia has taken steps to ensure the haze problem does not recur in Malaysia, said Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar. He said despite the current hot weather, Malaysia was confident the proactive steps taken by Indonesia could help resolve the problem, which has plagued Malaysia and Singapore since 2015.

He added that last year, Indonesia took major steps to tackle the problem, including mobilising its army, police and local officers as well as increasing its assets at the affected locations. “Malaysia believes the systematic and aggressive action taken by Indonesia in tackling haze can prevent this pollution problem from recurring this year,” he told a press conference after opening the 18th International Seminar on Current Issues Affecting Forests and Forestry Products, here today.

In 2015, forest fires broke out in Indonesia, causing thick smoke to spread to Malaysia. Yesterday, the Indonesian Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) issued warnings of increased forest fires following the dry weather which is expected to worsen in Acheh, increasing the possibility of the region being engulfed in haze.

Indonesia’s Peatland Restoration Agency has reportedly given the assurance that neighbouring countries like Malaysia and Singapore would not suffer the haze as it had taken new steps to stop forest fires. Wan Junaidi said Indonesia had abided by the guidelines issued by Asean through the Haze-Free Action Plan by 2020.

“Although there is some worry that the haze will hit Malaysia because there are hotspots in Kalimantan, we are holding to the assurance given by Indonesia,” he said. On a separate issue, Wan Junaidi urged the state governments involved in the development of the Central Forest Spine to cooperate in the efforts of forest and natural habitat conservation. He also said Malaysia was making plans to use electric cars in stages beginning next year until 2025 as a way to tackle the problem of air pollution caused by vehicular smoke emissions. —¬†Bernama

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