Haze may end when monsoon starts

PETALING JAYA: Even if Indonesian fires burn well into 2016, the haze in Malaysia is likely to end with the coming of the north-east monsoon, which starts next month.

The Meterological Department said winds from the South China Sea heading here then could push the smoke away to the west.

"By early November, we expect to be free from the transboundary haze. We're going to have the north-east monsoon from the South China Sea," said director-general Datuk Che Gayah Ismail.

Referring to a Reuters report that the haze could go on until March, she said that irrespective of burning in Indonesia, Malaysia would not be affected.

She said the haze here, which saw the air pollutant index reading climb to 178 in Port Klang at 5pm yesterday, was expected to improve with Typhoon Koppu now in the Philippines weakening by Oct 26.

In Klang, the town was seriously under assault yesterday.

Visibility was so bad that speedboat operators plying from Port Klang jetty to Pulau Ketam had to depend on their global positioning system (GPS) to find their way about.

Speedboat United Pulau Ketam-Port Klang chairman Lim Hack Tong said it was difficult to navigate the speedboats towards the island without GPS help due to the heavy smog.

He said speedboat operators were finding it difficult to make a living since the haze hit Klang.

He added that speedboat operators mostly depended on tourists and locals visiting Pulau Ketam during the weekends but the numbers had dropped drastically in recent times.

The thick haze has also prompted some schools to take precautionary measures such as directing students to wear masks in the classroom.

Chung Hua Independent High School board of trustees member Datuk Teh Meng Huat said students had to attend classes as they needed to prepare for the Unified Examination Certificate exam, which starts today.

"Although the haze is bad, we cannot close our school due to the examination, so we have asked the students to wear masks during classes," said Teh.