Malaysian Environment Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar told AFP he was anxious as the haze “affects the health of our people” and said he planned to meet his Indonesian counterpart, Siti Nurbaya Bakar, later this month to discuss the issue.
Malaysia and Indonesia also said they would deploy aircraft to water-bomb the raging blazes and conduct “cloud-seeding” operations to induce rain.
Meanwhile, Indonesia’s Riau province declared a state of emergency this week as, according to local media, almost 25,000 people there and on Sumatra island suffered respiratory problems.
Neighbouring Malaysia is also affected, with Air Asia saying that around 29 flights from Kuala Lumpur were either delayed, diverted or cancelled on Monday.
Today, the weather agency expects air quality to be in the mid to high sections of the unhealthy range, and warned it could even go up to the low section of the very unhealthy range.
“It will bring temporary relief but whatever it is, we have to address the source of the problem”, she said.
Indonesian police had declared three big companies were involved in forest fire cases in South Sumatra province, said Brig-General Yazid Fanani, director at the criminal investigation department.
Officials in Singapore say there are no plans to alter or cancel any of this weekends proceedings despite the haze that hangs over the country and racetrack.
The city-state regularly comes under a haze blown over from near-by Indonesia at this time of year, although it has triggered fears over visibility as the F1 circus rolls into turn this weekend.
Following increased pressure and calls for greater accountability, Jakarta finally ratified last September the 2002 ASEAN Agreement on Trans-boundary Haze Pollution, which requires the parties involved to implement measures to prevent, monitor, and mitigate this kind of pollution.
President Joko Widodo called late on Monday for strong action against anyone caught lighting fires to clear forested land, as a worsening haze blanketed the north of the country and neighboring Singapore and Malaysia. Staff and students who feel unwell will be put in an air-conditioned room with an air purifier before being taken to see a doctor, the ministry said.
Singapore has passed legislation allowing authorities to fine companies that cause or contribute to haze, regardless of whether they have an office in the city. Indonesian authorities declined the offer.