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S’pore & M’sia experience haze from Sumatra hotspots, Indonesia environment minister denies it

Here we go again.

Zhangxin Zheng | September 9, 10:38 pm

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If you find your surroundings on Monday evening, Sept. 9, 2019, looking slightly haze, you are not going blind or insane.

Slight haze in some parts of Singapore

The National Environment Agency (NEA) has verified that some parts of Singapore might be experiencing “occasional slightly hazy conditions” on Sept. 9 afternoon.

The agency attributed the hazy conditions to the increasing number of hotspots in Sumatra, Indonesia.

At 6pm, the Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) level in Singapore was in the Moderate range at 75 to 85, while the one-hour PM2.5 concentration readings was between the normal and elevated range.

The prevailing winds are expected to blow mainly from the southeast or south for the rest of the day.

The hazy conditions are likely to persist as the haze will continue to be carried to Singapore and western Malaysia by the prevailing winds.

Our neighbour in the north is not spared from the haze, especially parts of western Malaysia.

The air pollutant index (API) levels were in the very unhealthy range in parts of Sarawak, such as Kuching and Samarahan.

As the dry weather persists, the Malaysian Meteorological Department (MetMalaysia) director-general, Jailan Simon said that the hazy conditions in western and southern Malaysia are likely to continue till late September.

MetMalaysia may deploy cloud-seeding operations should the haze situation worsens.

“No transboundary haze”: Indo minister

As of Sept. 9, NEA detected a total of 380 hotspots mostly in central and southern Sumatra.

Some 446 hotspots were also detected at Kalimantan, a significant drop from 704 on Saturday, Sept. 7, according to New Straits Times.

Despite satellite images showing the haze coming from Indonesia, its Environmental Affairs and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar on Sept. 8 denied that the transboundary haze was coming from Indonesia.

She wrote in a Facebook post that day:

“Today’s hotspot condition is approximately one third of the hotspot conditions on September 4 and 5. It has been ascertained that until now there has been no transboundary haze from Indonesia to neighboring countries.”

Here are some images of fires in Kalimantan captured by remote sensing:

Image from @Pierre Markuse.
Image from @Pierre Markuse.

Siti Nurbaya assured that the fires are being extinguished by an “integrated firefighting” method developed since 2015.

She also added that 99 percent of the fires were ignited by human causes.

At the end of the post, Siti Nurbaya also said that the government does not tolerate those who started the fire intentionally and will take decisive action against these culprits.

About Zhangxin Zheng

Zhangxin’s favourite pastime is singing Mulan’s soundtrack in the mangrove forests. She hopes to perfect the art of napping in a hammock in the mangroves without being drowned by rising sea levels.

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