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Indonesia Urged To Take Steps To Combat Smog

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KUALA LUMPUR – The Indonesian government must take necessary steps to combat the haze that is affecting the region, said Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye.

The National Institute of Occupa-tional Safety and Health (Niosh) chairman said that while it was a relief that the Indonesian government had agreed to ratify the Asean Agreement on Transbou­ndary Haze Pollution, it was important to see the implementation of this agreement.

“I hope the Indonesian government will be able to set aside a bigger allocation to their provinces affected by the forest fires,” he said.

Lee said haze had become an annual problem to countries neighbouring Indonesia, causing poor health to citizens.

On Tuesday, Indonesia became the last country to ratify the Asean Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution, marking a historic step in the collective efforts by member nations to tackle the annual smog.

Natural Resources and Environ­ment Deputy Minister Datuk Hamim Samuri said the haze was among the environmental issues tackled at the 26th Meeting of Asean Senior Officials on the Environment (Asoen) in Kuala Lumpur.

He said transboundary haze pollution was one of the most persistent and challenging issues within the Asean community.

“I strongly believe that with our collective efforts, together with strong political support from Asean member states, our agenda to be a haze-free region will soon be achieved,” he said during his opening speech yesterday.

Speaking to reporters later, he said the ministry was closely monitoring the Air Pollutant Index in the country and depending on the situation, cloud seeding would be discussed with the Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry.

“There is no need to panic. The situation has not reached dangerous levels. If it does, depending on factors such as hotspots and wind direction, necessary action will be taken,” he added. – The Star

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