JAKARTA: Haze that has been shrouding parts of Malaysia did not entirely originate from Indonesia, the archipelago’s Environmental Affairs and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar said on Wednesday (Sep 11), as she urged Malaysia to be more transparent about the situation.
“The Indonesian government has been systematically trying to resolve this to the best of its ability. Not all smog is from Indonesia,” she said in a press statement, as reported by state news agency Antara.
Parts of Malaysia have been blanketed in haze since last week, with the air quality reaching unhealthy levels. On Tuesday, more than 400 schools in Sarawak were forced to close.
Malaysia said last Friday a diplomatic note would be sent to Indonesia to call for immediate action against the raging fires.
This drew a rebuttal from Mdm Siti Nurbaya, who said there has been no recurrence of transboundary haze from Indonesia to neighbouring countries as the number of hotspots has dropped.
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On its website, the Indonesian Forestry Ministry said there has been a spike in hotspots across Southeast Asia, not only in Indonesia but also in Peninsular Malaysia and parts of Vietnam.
The hotspots contributed to haze in the respective countries, it added.
In her statement on Wednesday, Mdm Siti Nurbaya accused Malaysia of not revealing certain information on the haze, adding that smog affecting Malaysia could have originated from Sarawak, Peninsular Malaysia and perhaps parts of West Kalimantan.
"The Malaysian government should explain this objectively," she said, according to Antara.
The minister also dismissed claims that smog was travelling from Riau to Singapore. “Not true, there is no smog crossing over to Singapore from Riau. Hotspots in Riau have dropped,” she said.
Her Malaysian counterpart Yeo Bee Yin on Tuesday met staff at the Indonesian embassy in Kuala Lumpur to reiterate the country’s concern over the impact of persistent transboundary haze.
Malaysia also offered to help Indonesia put out the forest fires in Kalimantan and Sumatra, Ms Yeo said in a Facebook post.
“The government will continue to do cloud seeding whenever situation allows and send assistance to Indonesia if and when they accepted the offer,” she said.