Indonesia denies Malaysia's haze from Sumatra, cites satellite data

A man is seen fishing on a hazy day in Northport Klang September 9, 2019. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
A man is seen fishing on a hazy day in Northport Klang September 9, 2019. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 9 — Indonesia's meteorology body has denied that the haze in Malaysia originates from Sumatra, Indonesia, basing this assertion on satellite data over the past few days.

Indonesia's Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) reportedly dismissed news reports of transboundary haze in peninsular Malaysia originating from Sumatra.

“It is not like the news reports by foreign mass media,” BMKG deputy Mulyono R. Prabowo was quoted saying in a report by Indonesian media outlet Tempo.co today.

In the same report, Mulyono was reported saying that satellites had detected hotspots throughout South-east Asia during the September 4 to September 8 period.

He said BMKG found 2,510 hotspots within the region during this period — 727 hotspots (on September 4), 516 (September 5), 619 (September 6), 648 (September 7).

“These hotspots were spread across Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Vietnam, Timor Leste, and Thailand," he added, saying that BMKG did not detect transboundary haze from Sumatra to peninsular Malaysia.

Fires in Indonesia are often cited for the annual haze problem that neighbouring Malaysia faces.

This comes even as minister Yeo Bee Yin said today the fires in Indonesia are the root cause of the haze problem that Malaysia is currently experiencing, and that such fires need to be urgently extinguished.

The minister of energy, science, technology, environment and climate change said the Malaysian government will use all diplomatic channels to raise the urgency of taking immediate action to the Indonesian government.

Yeo also said Malaysia is ready to offer assistance to help Indonesia put out fires in the in Kalimantan and Sumatra.

Sumatra is separated from peninsular Malaysia by the Straits of Melaka, while Kalimantan shares land borders with Sarawak and Sabah.

Those who want to check for real-time air quality monitoring can visit (apims.doe.gov.my), while information on the regional haze situation such as hotspots, wind direction and rain forecast can be found via this link (asmc.asean.org).

Yeo said the haze situation in Malaysia is expected to improve once the direction of the monsoon wind changes at the end of this month.

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