It was a very wet morning many of us woke up to today but yesterday, the haze was back and hovered as if it will stay for a few days. It was not so bad yesterday morning, but towards the evening, temperatures soared and the acrid smell was strong as the Air Pollution Index (API) went up.
As of 11 pm last night, Nilai had the highest API reading of 108. Quite a number of areas in Klang Valley, Johor, Negeri Sembilan and Melaka had API readings between 50 and 90.
As of 5pm yesterday, the regional weather report states that “the showers over parts of central Sumatra today have helped to reduce the extent of the haze there while some smoke haze was still observed over the Strait of Malacca.”
It also stated that the low number of hotspot in Sumatra was due to cloud cover, which means there could be many more hotspots but those could not be seen due to the clouds.
“In West Kalimantan, isolated hotspots with localised smoke plumes were observed. Wet weather conditions are persisting in the northern Asean region. Over the next few days, the prevailing winds in the region are expected to strengthen and blow mainly from the southeast or southwest,” stated the report from Asean Specialised Meteorological Centre.
Although today most places had healthy API readings, yesterday it sure looked like we had to don our face masks or stay indoors with all our windows and doors shut as the acrid smell seeps in for a couple of days, maybe more.
A letter purportedly from the Education Ministry declaring today a holiday for schools was a much welcome respite for parents until the minister himself said it is a fake. The weatherman must have told him the rains would come.
Some parents got so excited, that they asked if Wednesday too would be a holiday if the API readings got worse, forgetting Wednesday is Merdeka Day.
One does hope on Wednesday, the haze would not return, for those participants in the Merdeka parades would have to be breathing in the haze, especially the school children.
Residents in some parts of Subang, Klang and Shah Alam had a double whammy when a water pipe burst near the Carlsberg factory in Shah Alam and water supply is only expected to be restored in 48 hours.
There is nothing much that anyone can do about the haze which seems to now be a common occurrence, thanks to wanton open burning by our Indonesian neighbours who are clearing land. Also, Malaysians cannot say much as some of these lands which burn belong to Malaysians too.
There is very little enforcement on the part of Indonesian authorities and as Malaysia and Indonesia are very closely related politically and economically, Malaysian authorities are not so keen to pressure Indonesia much to do something of this open burning, at least when the wind is blowing our way.
Another reason the dirty particles hovers in our air easily is also due to the existing pollution in our air before the haze blows in. If our air was cleaner, especially in the cities, the API readings would be much lower.
However, with a messy public transport system as the one in Klang Valley, there seems to be not much of a choice for many of us but to get our own cars and motor bikes, and continue to pollute the environment.
It has been said again and again – and is an old song to be played now – when we call upon the authorities to do something about this haze which disrupts our lives and creeps in on us and makes us sick, making us pray for rain and rain alone.
We cannot stop the winds from blowing our way, but the authorities can at least put their foot down and tell their counterparts in Indonesia to stop the open burning or else…
Probably too much of wishful thinking that will happen, as we are still very much dependent on their citizens as our maids and labourers.
The Heat Malaysia Online