KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 11 — The Indonesian government has again denied that the haze in Malaysia was caused by hotspots in the republic, claiming that the smog affecting Kuala Lumpur originating from Sarawak and Peninsular Malaysia.

Jakarta-based news outfit Tempo.co quoted its Minister of Environment and Forestry Siti Nurbaya Bakar as accusing Malaysia of covering up relevant information and insisted that not all smog came from Indonesia.

“There is information that they covered up. Really, the smoke entering Malaysia, to Kuala Lumpur, it came from Sarawak, then from Peninsular Malaysia, and also some from West Kalimantan.

“The Malaysian government should have been objective in its explanation,” she was quoted saying.

She also denied that transboundary haze exists, claiming that there was only one hour when the winds moved in the direction of north-west instead.

“Winds moved from Kalimantan and Sarawak, West Kalimantan, and Peninsular Malaysia. Don’t just say they were from Indonesia,” she added.

Indonesia’s denial comes despite the Asean Specialised Meteorological Centre’s (ASMC) warning that haze will continue to affect western parts of Peninsular Malaysia and western Sarawak, as hotspots are expected to persist in Sumatra and Kalimantan, Indonesia.

Hotspots detected in Indonesia from September 3 to 9, 2019. ― Picture courtesy of ASMC
Hotspots detected in Indonesia from September 3 to 9, 2019. ― Picture courtesy of ASMC

Despite scattered showers falling over the northern Asean region yesterday, ASMC said the southern region continue to be dry ― exacerbating the conditions.

In its most recent update yesterday, ASMC said persistent hotspots emitting moderate to dense smoke continued to be detected in the central and southern parts of Sumatra, leading to a significant build-up of haze.

It said some of the haze has been blown by the prevailing winds to Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore.

Earlier this week, minister Yeo Bee Yin said the fires in Indonesia are the root cause of the haze 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 Kalimantan and Sumatra.

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