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‘Only 3pc of burning by multinational companies’

KUALA LUMPUR: Regular burning by oil palm smallholders in Kalimantan and Central Sumatra, rather than multinational companies, are the main culprits behind forest fires that is causing the haze in Malaysia.

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar yesterday said information from Indonesian authorities showed that just three per cent of the burning was done by multinational companies, and that the prolonged dry season had caused the fires to go out of control.

He said these conditions could continue until March unless large amounts of rain doused the peat fires.

However, Wan Junaidi said, conditions were not expected to deteriorate to a level forcing the government to declare an emergency.

He said Malaysia would continue to provide assistance to Indonesia, and that a Bombardier water-bombing aircraft, which was recalled on Tuesday for maintenance, would be despatched back to Sumatra.

“What we can hope for now is for rain to come and put out the fires in Indonesia.

On our part here, cloud-seeding will be carried out in areas with Air Pollutant Index (API) reading of above 150.”

Wan Junaidi said a Department of Environment (DoE) study found that the contribution of vehicle fumes to the haze was increasing.

He advised people to reduce using private vehicles by carpooling or taking public transport. “Cars caught in traffic jams release large amounts of carbon gases, which mix with suspended particles from the haze.”

Wan Junaidi said DoE had arrived at the conclusion after studying the southern parts of the Klang Valley, such as Banting and Cheras, which had high API readings.

Meanwhile, he said there was no yellow haze in Malaysia that had been reported in Indonesia.

-nst

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