Malaysia should follow Singapore in use of technology to measure haze pollution, Zahid says

DPM Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi siad Malaysia should use the latest and advanced technology to measure the haze conditions as employed by Singapore. — File pic
DPM Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi siad Malaysia should use the latest and advanced technology to measure the haze conditions as employed by Singapore. — File pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 4 — Malaysia can look to Singapore and see how the neighbouring country measures its air pollution and use the same technology to measure the haze levels here, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said today.

Speaking amid one of the worst conditions caused by the annual haze problem in the region, Zahid said he believes that Malaysia can use the latest and advanced technology to measure the haze conditions as employed by the neighbouring country.

“Meanwhile, maybe we can use the standard in that neighbouring country to be a guideline,” he told reporters here.

“I don’t think we have different measurements, because we are only separated by a strait as a border, so there is nothing wrong – unless for ego reasons – if we use the technology of others for the benefit of our people while we wait for our own technology and equipment,” he added, alluding to Singapore.

Zahid was asked if Putrajaya will dip into its emergency funds to obtain new reading equipment to measure the levels of air pollution.

He did not respond to this question.

Malaysia’s Department of Environment (DoE) denied on September 27 that it had rigged Air Pollutant Index (API) readings, following social media users’ quizzing of the differing readings between Johor and Singapore, New Straits Times had reported.

DoE director-general Datuk Halimah Hassan reportedly explained that Singapore’s readings for its Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) was also based on a sixth parameter of fine particulate matter (PM2.5), which the latter had added on since last April.

Halimah had then said that Malaysia is not using an old method and is aware of Singapore's new addition to its air pollutant measurement method, adding that the DoE was finalising the budget to add on the sixth component in the calculation of API readings.

According to NST, Singapore had recorded PSI readings that entered the hazardous level of above 300 last Thursday evening and hit 341 during dawn last Friday, in comparison to the readings of 139 to 192 in the unhealthy category for Johor Baru.

On October 1, PKR lawmaker Wong Chen said Malaysia must upgrade all its machines nationwide that are used to measure the API as the current equipment does not reflect the true health risks posed by the annual haze season, claiming that Malaysia's current standard of PM10 to measure air particles is inferior to the smaller measurement of PM2.5 used by Singapore.

PM10 means the machines count the level of particles in the air that are 10 micrometres or less in diameter, while PM2.5 means that measurements are taken for particles that have a diameter 2.5 micrometres or less.

Wong noted that the fact that Malaysia has 12 PM2.5 facilities implies that the government is not particularly concerned about the issue, especially since it took Putrajaya three years between 2012 and 2015 to upgrade just seven of the facilities.

He had urged the federal government to explain how much and how long it will take to install a PM2.5 machine, while at the same time immediately send out hourly reports of PM2.5 measurement at all 12 sites already set up with the upgraded machines.