Put out your fires fast, Malaysia tells Indonesia

 Put out your fires fast, Malaysia tells Indonesia
Natural Resources and Environ­ment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar.
PHOTO: The Star/ANN

PETALING JAYA - Malaysia wants Indonesia to put out its open burning fires quickly before the haze here worsens.

Natural Resources and Environ­ment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said Malaysia had written to Indonesia on the matter.

Indonesia has been urged to "take immediate action" and to "boost its fire-fighting efforts in the affected areas", he said.

Malaysia's concerns were made known to Indonesia's Ministry of Environment and Forestry in a letter dated Monday.

As of Tuesday, satellites detected 152 hot spots in Sumatra and 74 in Kalimantan, he said.

Wan Junaidi said he would be meeting his counterpart in Jakarta soon to discuss the haze problem.

The meeting will also look at speeding up the signing of a transboundary haze prevention agreement between the two countries, he said.

Wan Junaidi said he would be chairing a national haze conference with various agencies here on Sept 28 to discuss emergency haze measures.

Some measures that had been taken, he said, included anti-open-burning patrols in February and a ban on open burning in some states since March last year.

From Jan 1 to Aug 23, a total of 3,117 open burning cases were detected nationwide, with 1,118 of these in farming areas, Wan Junaidi said.

Compound fines were issued in 199 cases while verbal warnings were given in 15 and written ­notices in 39 cases.

Legal action was being considered in 17 cases, Wan Junaidi added.

He said 194 Department of Environ­ment officers had been given the power to arrest anyone suspected of open burning or other environmental crimes.

Anyone found guilty of open burning can be fined up to RM500,000 (S$166,000) or be jailed up to five years, or both.

Compound fines can run as high as RM2,000 for a single offence.

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