Meet stakeholders, Indonesia to address transboundary haze, Kuching MP tells Putrajaya

Hazy condition along the Samarahan expressway as at 3pm, September 8, 2019. — Picture by Sulok Tawie
Hazy condition along the Samarahan expressway as at 3pm, September 8, 2019. — Picture by Sulok Tawie

KUCHING, Sept 8 — DAP’s Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii today urged the Ministry of Energy, Science, Technology and Climate Change to call for a meeting among stakeholders, including Indonesia, to address the issue of transboundary haze that is heavily affecting many parts of Sarawak.

He also called for the reconvening of a meeting of the Asean Ministerial Committee to enforce the existing understanding among member countries with regards to the Haze Agreement 2002.

He said the committee should take new innovative steps, especially to address this issue in view of global climate change and also the proposed shifting of the Indonesian Capital to Kalimantan from Jakarta.

“So while it is important for the different countries to have an understanding, it is also important to have an enforcement mechanism to keep the different countries in check,” he said, adding that transboundary haze has been a chronic problem affecting everyone, especially infants, children and pregnant mothers who are more at risk.

He noted that the air quality in Sarawak has been at unhealthy level over the past few days in the state, affecting not only school children but also the sick and pregnant women.

“While the Ministry of Education can make a decision to close the schools in view of continuous unhealthy Air Pollutant Index (API) readings, but this is a bit complicated when it comes to the national Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR) examination,” he said.

He said he has been in contacts the ministry officials who have given an assurance that they are monitoring the situation.

“In the case of UPSR, while it is difficult to postpone a national examination unless the issue affects the whole region, there are standard operating procedures to follow in case of a continuous unhealthy API during the examination,” he said.

On top of providing enough mask for the students, Yii said each school will set the necessary operation room to coordinate any other necessary efforts including referring to nearest healthcare facilities in case of any symptoms.

He said the Ministry of Health has also confirmed that it is on high alert to deal with any health cases aggravated by the haze.

He added the parents of UPSR candidates will also be briefed to take the necessary precautions including limiting the time of their children even in school for the examination.

Yii said he was informed the state Education Department has been provided with 50,000 face masks yesterday that will be distributed to the students all around Sarawak.

Meanwhile, the API readings as at 4pm are Kuching (221), Samarahan (201), Sri Aman (242), Sarikei (185) and Miri (160).

The API reading of 200 to 300 is categorised as very unhealthy while below 200 to 100 as unhealthy.

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