JAKARTA: There has been no recurrence of transboundary haze from Indonesia to neighbouring countries, its Environmental Affairs and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar said on Sunday (Sep 8), as Malaysia continued to grapple with smog and a hot spell.
In a post on Facebook, the minister said the number of hotspots in Indonesia has seen a downward trend.
“The number of hotspots today (Sunday) is a third of the hotspots registered on Sep 4 and 5,” she said.
"It has been ascertained that until now there has been no transboundary haze from Indonesia to neighboring countries."
Mdm Siti Nurbaya’s comments came two days after Malaysia said it would send a diplomatic note to Indonesia to call for immediate action against the raging fires.
For years, Southeast Asian nations have been choked by annual bouts of smog caused by slash-and-burn agricultural practices in Indonesia's islands of Kalimantan and Sumatra.
The Indonesian minister said on Sunday that efforts to fight fires were ongoing at all hotspots with an “integrated firefighting” method developed following the devastating fires in 2015.
READ: Three things Jokowi could do better to stop the haze and forest fires in Indonesia, a commentary
Mdm Siti Nurbaya added that 99 per cent of the forest and land fires in the archipelago were caused by human activities.
“We will not tolerate those who start these fires on purpose. We will continue to pursue the culprits and take stern action,” she said.
The Malaysian Meteorological Department had said last week that haze affecting parts of the country came after an increase in hotspots Sumatra and Kalimantan.
It added that transboundary haze was expected to continue until the southwest monsoon period ends in late September or early October.
Western parts of peninsular Malaysia and some areas in Sarawak have been shrouded in smog.
“The Meteorological Department will continue to monitor the atmosphere and will immediately launch cloud seeding operation when the situation permits to reduce the effects of haze,” it added in a statement on Sunday.
MOSQUES TO HOLD PRAYERS FOR RAIN IN MALAYSIA
To combat the dry weather, the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (JAKIM) urged all mosques in the country to pray for rain.
In a statement, JAKIM’s director-general Mohamad Nordin Ibrahim said three mosques – the National Mosque in Kuala Lumpur and the Putra Mosque and Tuanku Mizan Zinal Abidin Mosque in the administrative capital of Putrajaya - would hold the “solat istisqa (prayers for rain)” on Friday night.
“JAKIM is seeking the cooperation from all state Islamic religious departments across the country to ask all mosques under their purview to hold ‘solat istisqa,’” he said.