As haze worsens, Malaysia looking into cloud-seeding

A view of the Kuala Lumpur skyline obscured by haze on Sept 7, 2019.
A view of the Kuala Lumpur skyline obscured by haze on Sept 7, 2019.PHOTO: BERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysia is looking into the feasibility of cloud seeding to induce rain in areas which are currently affected by haze as more areas in Sarawak recorded unhealthy air pollutant index (API) levels.

Deputy Prime Minister Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said on Saturday (Sept 7) that the Meteorology Department (MetMalaysia) would have to take into consideration the atmospheric condition of the affected areas.

"If you want to do cloud seeding, you have to know there should be clouds. If aren't any, it will be meaningless," she said.

Transboundary haze was detected on Thursday spreading from the Indonesian province of West Kalimantan on Borneo to the island's Malaysian side, Indonesia's climate agency said on Friday.

Eight areas in Sarawak recorded unhealthy API readings as of Saturday, compared with six on Friday, with Kuching registering a very unhealthy API reading of 216 as of 2pm.

An API of between 0 and 50 is classified as good, 51 to 100 moderate, 101 to 200 unhealthy, 201 to 300 very unhealthy while 300 and above is hazardous.

Despite the worsening condition, Sarawak state education department has no plans to postpone the Ujian Penilaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR), a nationwide exam for Primary Six pupils.

Instead, pupils will be provided face masks as a precautionary measure.

 
 
 
 

"If the Air Pollutant Index (API) readings exceed 201, schools will be closed but the UPSR examination will go on as scheduled under strict supervision by the school and exam invigilators," the head of Sarawak State Disaster Management Committee (JPBN) secretariat, Major Ismail Mahedin, said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah, who is the National Disaster Management Committee chairman, said that state disaster management teams and the relevant authorities, including the Fire and Rescue Department, will continue to monitor the situation on the ground.

"The National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma) and the state government will allocate some fund to get masks to the people," she said.

Dr Wan Azizah also urged Malaysians, especially those in the affected areas, to remain indoors and wear masks when they go outdoors to avoid any health complications.

Eleven areas in Malaysia have recorded unhealthy API levels, the highest number of places affected since the start of this year's haze season.

According to Department of Environment data, seven places in Sarawak along with four in Peninsular Malaysia had API readings of between 101 and 200.

Malaysia is looking at sending a diplomatic note to Indonesia to take immediate action on putting out the fires that are causing haze in the region.

Deputy Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Isnaraissah Munirah Majilis said the note would also urge Indonesia to prevent the fires from recurring.