The Star, 27 Jun 2014
PETALING JAYA: The skies over the peninsula are clearer with fewer hotspots in nearby Sumatra, allowing parts of Malaysia’s west coast a respite from the haze.
Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri G. Palanivel said that the number of hotspots in Sumatra dropped from 143 on Tuesday to 86 the next day.
“Satellite images show moderate smoke haze from hotspots in Riau province, central Sumatra, and wind from the south-west bringing haze to the central and southern regions of the peninsula’s west coast,” he said in a statement.
He added that 38 hotspots were also detected locally, with half of them in Pahang.
Based on air pollutant index (API) readings yesterday, the unhealthy air around Selangor and Negri Sembilan a few days ago now had lower levels of pollution.
Most parts of the peninsula also saw moderate doses of bad air, with only Sungai Petani in Kedah seeing its reading slightly above the 100 API mark.
According to US-based environmental organisation World Resources Institute, the Sumatran fires seemed to be concentrated in Indonesia’s Bengkalis, Rokan Hilir and Pelalawan districts. Many of the fires there occurred in pulpwood, oil palm and logging concessions.
Investigations by the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry revealed that 3,947 cases of open burning were detected in Malaysia as of Wednesday. These included 1,260 on agricultural land, 914 in brush fields and 838 in forested areas.
During this time, 276 cases saw perpetrators slapped with compounds and 87 received warning notices. On top of that, 43 investigation papers for burning offences were opened for prosecution.
Malaysian Meteorological Department corporate and commercial director Maznorizan Mohamad told The Star south-west monsoon winds were expected to continue blowing here, though wind strength was expected to dip slightly soon.
“If big forest fires occur in Sumatra, smoke haze will be carried to Malaysia but its movement here will be slow,” she said.
Maznorizan also expected maximum average daily temperatures to be between 31.2°C and 33.2°C in the peninsula and between 31.1°C and 32.6°C in Sabah and Sarawak.
With the El Nino phenomenon, she said maximum temperatures might rise to between 34°C and 36°C – a condition that would last until September.