Haze in Malaysia due to post-Covid-19 economic activities in Mekong Subregion - Geologists
SHAH ALAM - Transport transboundary haze occurs in Malaysia due to economic activities carried out post-Covid-19 in the Mekong Subregion which comprises Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, and Thailand.
Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) geologist Dr Azmi Hassan said since late last year, when the dry season began in the particular region, the epidemic control measures were lifted, allowing for activities to be carried out, particularly agricultural activities.
"I think that this is the reason why our northern states like Penang, Kedah, and Perlis have the most negative impact on the transboundary haze.
"To make things worse, there are a number of peat fires in Malaysia as well as open burning and industrial activities related to the pandemic. I believe that Covid-19 is under control and the economic activities have been going on," he told Sinar Daily.
He said the main problem was not from the local source, but rather from hot spots in Thailand that have been detected since last December.
Even though, there was the normal above-normal rain in the particular region and the wind blowing towards the country (Malaysia), there were dry spells especially in Perlis, Kedah, and Penang, Azmi said.
This, he said will be ongoing for the next few weeks.
“If the winds change hopefully in the next few weeks then we will see a better condition in our hazy condition,” he added.
Echoing Azmi’s views, Universiti Malaya (UM) geologist Dr Mariney Mohd Yusoff said the transboundary haze happened due to some forest burning in Thailand, and the wind movement brought the polluted air to Malaysia.
Asked how long would it last, she said it was difficult to predict.
"But I hope the forest burning issue will be resolved soon.
"However, we are moving towards the middle of the year, when it is common for the country to experience a dry season, especially in the northern part and East Kelantan and Terengganu," Mariney said.
She said since Malaysia was located close to the equatorial line, it will rain every other week, even if it was only a quick downpour.
This, she said was beacuse of Malaysia’s climatic typical process.
"However, you need to be extra careful to avoid outdoor activities as the polluted air will easily affect your health,” she said.
The haze currently affecting the country was caused by peat fires, hot spots and open burning.
Natural Resources, Environment, and Climate Change Minister Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad said the reopening of economic activities after Covid-19 were also contributory factors to the heat wave in Peninsular Malaysia.
“The hot weather has caused fires to occur in forests and landed properties.
"The haze is not only affecting Malaysia, but but other countries in the Asean region too," he was reported saying.