PUTRAJAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The Malaysian government will be drawing up an action plan on how to tackle the hot and dry season, caused by the El Nino phenomenon.
Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said the Cabinet would be asked to approve a special committee on hot and dry weather matters.
Speaking on Wednesday (March 16) after chairing a special meeting on the heatwave, he said the action plan would serve as a guideline for the public to plan daily activities and precautions during the heatwave.
The actions could include closing schools or stopping all outdoor activities at school.
Dr Wan Junaidi said the proposed special committee would be a permanent body that will issue public warnings and advisories whenever a hot spell occurs in the country.
"The El Nino phenomenon did not just occur this year, it hit us in 1997 and 1998, and it happens from time to time, with varying degrees of intensity."
He also said the Cabinet would be the one to finalise the action plan that would be taken when the heat reaches certain threshold levels.
"According to the Meteorological Department, a 'heatwave' is declared when the temperature of an area is over 35°C for five days in a row, or over 37 °C for three days in a row.
"But the heatwave is only declared at the areas that records the trend, not the whole country."
He added that the Cabinet would also decide if the special committee would be headed by his ministry or the Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry.
The Department of Environment has recorded 617 cases of open burning this year, up till March 14, and compounds have been issued for 52 cases, said Dr Wan Junaidi.