Malaysia says it's always willing to help Indonesia fight forest fires

An Indonesian ranger inspecting the peat forest fire at Meulaboh, Aceh province on July 26, 2017.
An Indonesian ranger inspecting the peat forest fire at Meulaboh, Aceh province on July 26, 2017. PHOTO: AFP

KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama) - Malaysia is ready to send firefighters to Indonesia to help put out forest fires in the republic, said Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar.

The Malaysian government was very concerned about the problem and was ready to provide help at any time, he added.

"I have discussed it with Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim, who is in charge of the Fire Department and the Special Malaysia Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team (Smart), and he has given an assurance that they are ready," he told reporters at the Smart Tunnel Run 2017 on Sunday (July 30).

Recently, Indonesia's Disaster Mitigation Agency warned of an increase in forest fire threats owing to the ongoing drought in the country that was expected to worsen.

Some hot spots have already been detected in Aceh, resulting in haze there.

However, the Indonesian Peat Soil Recovery Agency has reportedly said that neighbours like Malaysia and Singapore would not experience haze as it had already taken steps to stop forest fires.

After his meeting with the governors of Riau and Jambi, Wan Junaidi said he was planning to meet with the governor of Aceh next to discuss the issue.

Earlier, Wan Junaidi flagged off about 1,800 runners who took part in the run organised by his ministry through the Department of Irrigation and Drainage.

The run was held in conjunction with the department's 85th anniversary and the 10th anniversary of operations of the Smart tunnel.

The 9.7km storm water management and road tunnel (Smart) project, opened in June 2007, is a dual-function tunnel aimed at mitigating floods in the federal capital by diverting 1.16 million cu m of water in the event of continuous heavy rain for three hours, as well as to ease traffic congestion.

As of July 15, it had prevented 299 flash floods in the city centre.

The areas that have benefited the most from the tunnel's flood management function are the Sultan Abdul Samad Building, Dataran Merdeka, Jalan Munsyi Abdullah, Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, Kampung Baru, Jalan Tun Razak and Jalan P. Ramlee.