Malaysia minister seeking to visit Indonesia over forest fires before SEA Games

The forest fire rages on as a helicopter drops water over a peat fire in Meulaboh, Aceh province. PHOTO: AFP

KUALA LUMPUR (SIN CHEW DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - A Malaysian Cabinet minister said he would seek to visit Indonesia before this month's South-east Asian (SEA) Games to offer Malaysia's assistance to fight forest fires in the country.

"Our request is as soon as possible. If we can go tomorrow, I will go but we have to seek permission from Indonesian side first," Natural Resources and Environment Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafaar said in a press conference after the 12th national water resource committee meeting.

He said Malaysia would offer to send the Special Malaysia Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team (SMART), bombardier plane and firemen to Indonesia.

He added that officials from his ministry to also arrange to visit their counterparts in Indonesia.

The minister said the situation had actually improved, noting that Aceh had 72 hotspots four days earlier but none currently. This showed that effort to put out fire in Indonesia had been effective, he said.

Wan Junaidi said he had instructed officers to brief him on haze condition, direction of wind and the updated report from Indonesia on forest fire each day at 7:30 am.

"I am of the view that we should not be worried about the haze currently. Although the monsoon wind is blowing from southwest, if forest fire take place in Riau and Jami, Peninsula Malaysia and Singapore would be affected. If forest fire take place in western, middle and eastern parts of Kalimantan, then Sarawak would be affected.

"Currently we are monitoring forest fire in Aceh. Based on the direction of the wind, only northern part of the Peninsula Malaysia - Penang, Perlis, Kedah and northern part of Perak as well as Thailand would be affected.

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