The Haze Is Back And Will Likely Last Until The End Of September
The haze situation in the country showed no clear sign of improvement over the weekend
According to The Star, schools in Sarawak located in areas with an Air Pollutant Index (API) reading of above 200 were told to close because of the worsening haze on Monday, 9 September.
At 5pm on Monday, two areas in Sarawak with API levels exceeding 200 - Sri Aman (248) and Kuching (245) - were told to close.
Meanwhile, in West Malaysia, the readings were 150 in Johan Setia Klang, 110 in Cheras, 108 in Negeri Sembilan, and 103 in Putrajaya.
The Department of Environment states that an API reading of between 0 and 50 is good, 51 to 100 moderate, 101 to 200 unhealthy, 201 to 300 very unhealthy, and 301 and above is deemed hazardous.
Meanwhile, the Asean Specialised Meteorological Centre (ASMC) reported on its website that there are increasing and persistent hotspots in Indonesia
According to their latest report as of 7.20pm on Monday, 9 September, persistent hotspots with smoke haze continue to be detected in the provinces of Riau, Jambi, South Sumatra, and Lampung.
This smoke haze, reportedly from Sumatra, has been blown by prevailing winds across the Strait of Malacca to the western parts of Peninsular Malaysia.
Meanwhile, smoke haze from the hotspots in West Kalimantan continue to affect western Sarawak.
Despite the situation in Malaysia, Indonesian Environmental Affairs and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar denied that the transboundary haze was coming from Sumatra and Kalimantan
"Today's hotspot condition is approximately one third of the hotspots on 4 and 5 September. It has been determined until now that there has been no transboundary haze from Indonesia to neighboring countries,” she wrote in a Facebook post on Sunday, 8 September.
Siti Nurbaya assured that the fires are being extinguished by a firefighting method developed in 2015.
She also added that 99% of the fires were ignited by deliberate human causes.
At the end of the post, she said that the government does not tolerate those who started the fire intentionally and will take decisive action against these culprits.
Indonesia's meteorology body has also denied that the haze is from Sumatra
Indonesia's Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) dismissed news reports of transboundary haze in peninsular Malaysia originating from Sumatra, according to Malay Mail.
"It is not like the news reports by foreign mass media," BMKG deputy Mulyono R. Prabowo was quoted saying in a report by Indonesian media outlet Tempo.co.
Mulyono reportedly based his assertion on satellite data over the past few days.
Despite the denials, Malaysia will be taking action over concerns of the worsening air pollution - which is expected to last until the end of September
According to New Straits Times, the Malaysian Meteorological Department (MetMalaysia) is in standby mode to conduct cloud seeding operations to ease the worsening haze across the country.
However, MetMalaysia director-general Jailan Simon said that they must wait for atmospheric suitability before attempting the operations.
On the other hand, Minister of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment, and Climate Change Yeo Bee Yin said in a Facebook post on Monday, 9 September, that the government is ready to offer any kind of assistance to help Indonesia extinguish the fires.
"We will be sending diplomatic notes to Indonesia to underscore the seriousness of haze, as well as to emphasise the urgency in putting out the fires," Yeo wrote.