Help us solve haze problem, Najib urges science experts at international conference

File picture shows Indonesian soldier dragging a hose while fighting a peatland fire in Ogan Ilir, South Sumatra province on the island of Sumatra September 30, 2015. — Antara/Reuters pic
File picture shows Indonesian soldier dragging a hose while fighting a peatland fire in Ogan Ilir, South Sumatra province on the island of Sumatra September 30, 2015. — Antara/Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 15 — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak today called on science experts at an international conference here to find a solution to the annual haze problem afflicting the region.

After delivering his speech and launching the 3rd Meeting of The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economies’ Chief Science Advisors and Equivalents in the city centre here, Najib returned to the podium to make the request.

“I would like to add something on the haze… we have suffered from the haze problem for 18 years and I hope our science advisors can advise the countries concerned on how to cope with slash and burns and how do you prevent fire in peatlands, whether it’s deliberate or due to climate change.

“I will be very interested to know your advice so in turn I can raise this at the APEC and ASEAN summits,” he told the audience at the Hilton Hotel here.

On October 11, during his two-day official visit to neighbouring Indonesia, Najib pledged to help Indonesia fight forest fires blanketing Southeast Asia in haze as foreign aircraft joined operations to douse the blazes.

“We consider the haze a serious issue as it’s a burden to Malaysians and Indonesians,” international news wire Agence France-Presse (AFP) quoted Najib telling reporters in Jakarta.

On September 29, the BBC reported Indonesian president Joko Widodo as saying that the haze problem cannot be solved quickly, with the latter also saying that measures such as building water reserves and canals in the forest, as well as better legal enforcement against burning in forests are being taken.

“You will see results soon and in three years we will have solved this,” he was quoted as telling the BBC.

The recent bout of haze had forced Malaysia to order a closure of schools in certain states several time and also caused disruption to flights and brief airport closures.

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