Malaysian & Indonesian Ministers Engage In Haze Blame Game

Malaysia, like Singapore, has seen its air quality levels worsen of late as a result of the haze.

The Twin Towers were shrouded in haze on 9 Sep
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Air conditions have become so bad in certain parts of Malaysia that some 400 schools were forced to shut down in Sarawak.

Indonesia has also reportedly shut schools in Sumatra due to safety concerns.

As the haze shows no signs of abating in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia’s ministers find themselves in a bit of a blame game, with each accusing the other’s country of causing the haze.

Indonesia says Malaysia is fudging the facts about its forest fires

The antics started earlier this week when Indonesia’s Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar accused Malaysia of not being truthful about its own spate of forest fires.

Indonesia’s Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar
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She also said that the haze affecting Malaysia was, in fact, caused by forest fires from within Malaysia itself.

The fire in Gelang Patah, Johor 2 weeks ago
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According to her Ministry, there has been a substantial increase in the number of forest fires in the region.

This includes the Malay Peninsula – which comprises Western Malaysia and Southern Thailand – and Vietnam.

The Malay Peninsula is highlighted in yellow
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Malaysian minister responds

On Wednesday (11 Sep), Malaysia’s Environment Minister Yeo Bee Yin took to Facebook to respond to her Indonesian counterpart’s comments. Here’s her post in full:

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In a “heated” Facebook post, Ms Yeo stated that data on 10 Sep showed that there were only 7 hotspots in Malaysia — far less than the 861 in the Indonesian regions of Kalimantan and Sumatra.

A firefighter extinguishing a fire in South Sumatra 
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Ms Yeo also shared charts showing the wind direction in the region and claimed that it was impossible for the haze in Malaysia to be caused by the Sarawak fires.

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She ended her post with some strong words, urging her Indonesian counterpart to not “live in denial”.

Netizens urge the Ministers to work together

The exchange of words was reported by mainstream news outlets like The Straits Times and saw a slew of comments from netizens.

One netizen said that the size of each hotspot should also be taken into account, in addition to the number when it comes to assessing the severity of the fires.

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Another netizen expressed displeasure at business owners who are reluctant to invest in equipment that’ll allow them to clear land without damaging the environment.

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Finally, one netizen urged both countries to solve the haze problem together, instead of blaming each other.

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Hope Indonesia & Malaysia will co-operate to solve the haze issue

Regardless of where the haze originated, we hope leaders from both countries are open to working together to solve this regional problem.

Turns out, Ms Yeo stated earlier that Malaysia is ready to help Indonesia to extinguish its fires.

While it remains to be seen if Indonesia will accept Malaysia’s help, we think this is a good start and hope both countries will work closely to solve the regional haze problem.

Featured image adapted from YouTube and Facebook