A memo was sent out on Sunday (23 June 2013) stating that all schools in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor Malacca, Segamat and Kuantan must be closed on Monday, by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak. This is in addition to the closure of schools in Muar and Ledang. The schools were ordered to close as a precautionary action as air quality got significantly worse as of 5pm on Sunday.
Yesterday, the API (Air Pollutant Index) in Port Dickson reached 295, which prompted Negeri Sembilan’s Chief Minister, Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan to announce the closure of schools in the PD area until the situation gets better. According to the API reading in Malacca, the air quality in the city had reached a hazardous level of 397 with Bukit Rambai (Malacca) reaching 456 as of 2pm yesterday. Segamat in Johor recorded a reading of 400, which prompted Johor’s Education Director, Mohd Nor A Ghani to close 110 primary and secondary schools. Muar, which has been declared an emergency area, recorded a reading of 746 earlier on Sunday, but went down to 690 later on in the day. But according to reports early this morning, the API reading has improved considerably at 148 in Muar.
The latest states to be registered with unhealthy API readings include the federal capital, Putrajaya, Selangor, Pahang, Negeri Sembilan and Johor. At the moment, two districts in Malaysia – Muar and Ledang in Johor – have been labeled as “haze emergency,” after API readings surged to over 700 yesterday. The emergency status, however, does not mean there is a curfew although schools have been ordered to shut down.
Malaysia’s worst reported haze history was in 1997 when the API reading in Kuching went up to 839.
According to reports, Malaysia’s Environment and Natural Resources Minister Datuk Seri G. Palanivel will meet with representatives of Malaysian-owned plantations in Indonesia suspected of contributing to the haze. Palanivel will also be meeting his Indonesian counterpart in Jakarta on Wednesday to further discuss the haze issue.
Altogether eight plantations were identified as Malaysian-owned. They are PT Langgam Inti Hiberida, PT Bumi Rakksa Sejati, PT Tunggal Mitra Plantation, PT Udaya Loh Dinawi, PT Adei Plantation, PT Jatim Jaya Perkasa, PT Multi Gambut Industri and PT Mustika Agro Lestari. Palanivel will first determine if these eight plantations were indeed owned by Malaysian companies. If these plantations are proven to have conducted slash-and-burn activities, they will have to answer to authorities in Indonesia. He says that Malaysia will not be able to take action against these plantations as they are Malaysian companies operating in Indonesia and are therefore governed by Indonesian laws.
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