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Lee: Malaysia must take lead in tackling haze issue

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia must be proactive in preventing the perennial haze, because it comes with great cost to health, environment and the economy, said social activist Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye (pic).

“Time is not on our side. Malaysia has to take the lead and get Asean to work on measures to prevent or mitigate this transboundary pollution,” he said in a statement.

Urging for strong political will and commitment from each Asean member, he suggested that the association of nations set a target – that the region be haze-free in the next three to five years.

“Images of a grey sky, low visibility, polluted air, respiratory problems, school closures and flight delays during last year’s crisis are still vivid in everyone’s minds.

“Malaysia should avoid a repeat of this at all cost,” he said.

Lee praised Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar for trying to get Indonesia to agree to address the issue.

“Regrettably, the minister has yet to receive any response from his counterpart despite sending nearly 10 letters,” he said.

A bilateral memorandum of understanding (MoU) was proposed after Asean ratified the Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution.

Lee called on Malaysia and Indonesia to ensure the MoU was signed as soon as possible so that bilateral measures and actions to solve the issue could be expedited.

He said the Meteorological Depart­ment had reported that ­forest fires in Riau should not be an immediate concern because the winds are not blowing towards Malaysia.

“But what will happen in May and June when the winds change direction?

“If need be, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak should get in touch with Indonesian President Joko Widodo to get things going.”-thetsar

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