KUALA LUMPUR, May 1 — Malaysia will meet Asean member states to address the issue of transboundary haze, as hotter and drier weather is anticipated in the middle of the year due to the El Nino phenomenon, The Star reported today.

Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change Minister Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad said five representatives are slated to meet in Singapore on June 7 and 8.

He said the meeting would be the 24th since the Asean Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution was signed in 2002.

“Malaysia will participate in talks with Brunei, Indonesia, Singapore, and Thailand over the issue of transboundary haze.


“We look forward to discussing issues on the hot weather, the possibility of haze incidents, and strategies,” he was quoted as saying.

Nik Nazmi added that Asean will develop a revised roadmap for transboundary haze cooperation to improve the existing guidelines.

According to the English daily, dangerous levels of smog due to open burning have covered parts of Northern Thailand, Myanmar, and Laos since the beginning of this year.


In Malaysia, some areas in Kuala Lumpur, Johor, and Kelantan recorded unhealthy air pollutant index (API) readings last month, whereas the Malaysian Meteorological Department (MetMalaysia) had issued Level 1 warnings for heatwaves in several parts of the country since March 19.

The Health Ministry has also detected five cases of heat-related illness thus far, including the deaths of two children by heatstroke and dehydration in Kelantan.

Nik Nazmi added that the government had implemented the National Open Burning Action Plan on April 2 to reduce open burning.

“Compounds and legal action for open burning will be taken according to Section 29A of the Environmental Quality Act,” he reportedly said.

Under Section 29A, individuals found guilty of open burning could face a fine of not more than RM500,000 or imprisonment of up to five years, or both.

He said the National Open Burning Action Plan will enable related ministries, departments, and agencies to take concerted mitigation efforts to curb open burning that causes haze.

The minister added that the Department of Environment (DoE) had also activated its open burning prevention plan in March, focusing on reducing the risk of open burning and peatland fires.

The department together with MetMalaysia will closely monitor the weather forecast, hotspots, the number of days without rainfall, and fires, according to the report.

“The government has also expanded the number of patrols and monitoring areas that are prone to open burning and increased the use of drones for monitoring purposes.

“We will be holding a national committee on haze and dry weather meeting on May 26 to keep abreast of developments,” he was quoted as saying.