Mon, Jun 15, 2009 - Page 4 News List

Kuala Lumpur offers to help Indonesia curb fires

AFP , KUALA LUMPUR

Malaysia has offered to help Indonesia curb forest fires blamed for the choking haze that shrouds the region each year, media reports said yesterday, as air quality fell in the country.

In the dry season, Indonesian farmers burn forests to clear land for agriculture, causing a smoky haze that spreads across the region, affecting tourism and increasing health problems.

“We have special airplanes which can be used to carry out water bombing,” the Sunday Star quoted Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak as saying.

“It is up to the Indonesian government to accept it,” the prime minister said, as he urged Malaysians to avoid open burning.

Malaysian environmental authorities said air quality and visibility in parts of the country over the past week fell from “good” to “moderate.”

On Sunday morning, the environment department said 22 out of 49 areas it monitored were “moderate,” an improvement from Friday, when three areas including Kuala Lumpur were “unhealthy.”

Indonesia has outlawed land-clearing by fire, but weak enforcement remains a problem.

Singapore, Malaysia and other countries have urged Indonesia to ratify a regional treaty to fight cross-border haze pollution.

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