Arriving monsoonal winds clear away haze in Malaysia; emergency declared in Indonesia’s Riau

Justin Ong
Putrajaya still has a reading of 122 but most parts of the Klang Valley are already below that. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 24 — The early beginnings of the north-east monsoon brought respite to Malaysia that has been covered in haze over the past weeks, with just 11 areas still experiencing unhealthy air this afternoon.

According to the Department of Environment’s Air Pollutant Index readings, most parts of the country have returned to “moderate” conditions save for areas in the central region of the peninsula that are just inside the “unhealthy” band.

Areas still with API readings far above 100 include Johan Setia (168) in Selangor, Nilai in Negri Sembilan (131), Seri Manjung (131) in Perak, and Temerloh (129) in Pahang.

Putrajaya still has a reading of 122 but most parts of the Klang Valley are already below that.

The north-east monsoon blowing in from the South China Sea typically arrives around October each year.

In Indonesia that is believed to be the source of the haze, the situation deteriorated significantly this week and a state of emergency has been declared in the province of Riau.

Riau made global news this week due to images of the province shrouded in a red haze, drawing comparisons with the surface of Mars.

The emergency will last until October 31, with authorities there evacuating the province of pregnant women and children.

Indonesia continues to reject neighbouring countries’ offers to help it put out the fires within its borders, ignoring the 2002 Asean Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution that created a framework expressly to address what has become an annual crisis.

The republic’s media pleaded with Jakarta last week to accept aid from Malaysia and Singapore to fight the fires, stressing that Indonesia needed “all the help we can get. Now.”

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