Malaysia Uncut

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Haze spreads in Malaysia; air quality remains at unhealthy level in capital

The Associated Press
Published: October 7, 2006 

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia  Smoke haze continued to spread in Malaysia on Saturday as the government called on Southeast Asian countries to provide money to tackle open burning and forest fires in neighboring Indonesia.

None of Malaysia’s 51 air quality monitoring stations registered clean air, with 20 in the “unhealthy” range, according to the Department of Environment.

The official Air Pollutant Index designates readings of one to 50 as “good”, 50-100 as “moderate,” and above 100 as “unhealthy.”

The largest city, Kuala Lumpur, and surrounding areas remained in the unhealthy range for the second straight day. Kuala Lumpur registered 108 and the nearby administrative capital Putrajaya was 111.

Sarawak state, located on Borneo island, which was the worst hit in recent days, saw an improvement in air quality. Sri Aman district, which turned “very unhealthy” with a reading of 221 Friday, came down to 131.

Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak said the haze problem would persist unless Southeast Asian countries were prepared to provide funds to help Indonesia put out the fires.

“The cause is not here but in Indonesia where there is widespread burning and limited means to put out the fires, coupled with the wind direction which blows the haze to our countries,” Najib was quoted as saying by the national news agency Bernama.

“We believe that they lack the resources and have limited capacity,” he said. “We must also sympathize with Indonesia because they already have many problems to tackle and their forests are so huge.”

Najib said there had been discussions on a joint fund, but no agreement had been reached.

His comments came after Malaysian groups and individuals slammed Indonesia, and to a lesser extent Malaysian authorities, for not doing much to stop the haze.

The Star newspaper said in a front-page story Saturday that readers have sent e-mails and text messages expressing anger and frustration on the lack of action to tackle the problem.

Another newspaper, New Straits Times, said Malaysians were fed up with the haze “and with the same litany of excuses offered by Indonesia and the authorities here for this unwelcome visitor every year.”




Sunday, October 8, 2006 - Posted by | News

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