Many Malaysians are closely monitoring reports of forest fires in Central Kalimantan especially after officials there declared a State of Emergency due to fires until 28 September.
Why are Malaysians concerned?
Well, the main worry is if the fires will result in us having to deal with hazy conditions soon.
The Malaysian Meteorological Department, however, has assured that we have nothing to worry about - for now.
Replying to questions by Rojak Daily
, METMalaysia director-general Jailan Simon assured that there's no reason for Malaysians to panic.
"METMalaysia is constantly monitoring the haze situation in neighbouring countries, including in Kalimantan. In fact, recent data show that a total of 10 hotspots have been detected in Eastern and Central Kalimantan."
"Based on the number and position of the hot spots and the direction of the wind, it shows that no cross-border haze pollution is present. Therefore, we do not have to worry about haze hitting the country from the area at this time," he said.
Less haze worries this year
On future concerns relating to the haze, Jailan said that the effects could be less this year.
"Haze occurs every year in Malaysia especially during the Southwest Monsoon season. However, this year the haze is likely to be lesser compared to the previous year as more rain is expected in Malaysia and neighbouring countries."
"Although we anticipate a decrease, haze can still occur in August and September 2020 if open burning activities are not controlled," he warned.
On hotspots in the region, according to the Asean Specialised Meteorological Center
(ASMC), besides Kalimantan, there are about 10 hotspots in Sumatra itself.
"METMalaysia is monitoring the matter and will notify the relevant agencies if haze is expected to hit the country."
"Typically, the number of hot spots or fires increases in late July to September due to the drier conditions in the neighbouring countries," he said.
Good conditions for now
As for our current air quality, Jailan said that the Air Pollution Index (API) by the Department of Environment showed that it is in the good and medium category throughout Malaysia.
"The forest fires in Kalimantan will only affect our country especially Sarawak and Sabah if the fires occur in the South and / or Southwest of Kalimantan and the wind blows in from the Southwest."
"Currently, fires are concentrated in the East and Central Kalimantan areas and the numbers are not that many," he said.
As for Peninsular Malaysia, Jailan explained that haze happens when forest fires ignite in the Central and South of Sumatera accompanied by winds blowing from the Southwest.
Jailan also advised Malaysians to refrain from taking part in outdoor activities and drinking loads of water if the haze occurs.
"Also avoid open burning at all times," he said adding that for the latest weather updates, visit METMalaysia
, log on to the myCuaca
app or contact the MET Department via their hotline, 1-300-22-1638.