KUCHING, April 22 — The Sarawak Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) is paying close attention to Kuala Baram in the Miri Division due to its history of wildfires, chairman Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah said today.

He said wildfires always occur in the peat swamps every dry season, producing thick haze that blankets not only other parts of northern Sarawak, but also Brunei.

“This is why we are focusing on Kuala Baram,” Uggah, who is also the deputy Sarawak premier, said when met by reporters during the Hari Raya Aidilfitri open house of Sarawak Premier Tan Sri Abang Johari Openg at the Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK) here.

He said state Transport Minister Datuk Seri Lee Kim Shin, who is also the SDMC coordinator for Miri Division, will call a meeting with the relevant government agencies and departments tomorrow to ensure that they are ready for the wildfires.

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He said these agencies will make sure that the proper fire-fighting facilities are on standby.

“But most important of all is that the public must not practise open burning in Kuala Baram, and if they do, they must extinguish the fire completely before leaving,” he said.

Uggah said the current dry season is expected to last until this June.

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He also said the Natural Resources and Environmental Board (NREB) will take stern action against those involved in open-burning activities in the state and urged the public to report any such instances.

He said, however, that the current poor air quality in the state could be due to transboundary haze, before adding that this was an issue for the federal government to sort out with neighbouring countries.