Saturday, August 13, 2005

Moderate condition in Brunei Darussalam

By Azlan Othman

As Indonesia is hoping other Southeast Asian nations will help it fight forest fires which have created a choking haze smothering neighbouring Malaysia, Brunei too is experiencing a hazy situation which the authorities term as "moderate".

With the local PSI level being 61 yesterday, the air quality had not reached hazardous levels although the visibility seems low, and it was not easy for Asthma patients to breathe easily. Brunei recorded slight to moderate haze in the past 24 hours both at Brunei International Airport and Kuala Belait meteorological stations, the Meteorological Service of the Department of Civil Aviation said yesterday.

The lowest visibility recorded yesterday was four kilometres at the airport and six kilometres in Kuala Belait meteorological station.

Latest haze maps at the haze monitoring page of the Meteorological Service of the National Environmental Agency, Singapore revealed that a number of hotspots were detected in Sumatra. The prevailing winds in South-Westerly direction aided in bringing the haze to our country.

The Meteorological Service said the chance of few occasional showers is not sufficient to overcome the problem of fires over these sources and to clear the haze in Brunei. The choking smog has blanketed the Sultanate about a week, reducing the visibility and no longer allows Bruneians to breathe easy.

Malaysia's TV3 meanwhile issued a press statement that they will be postponing their events scheduled for Sunday. "Sistem Televisyen Malaysia Berhad (TV3) wishes to announce the postponement of the two events scheduled on Sunday, August 14, 2005 due to the deteriorating air quality level caused by the haze.

"With the Air Pollution Index (API) at such alarming level, we are not willing to put the public health at risk," TV3 said in a press release.

Meanwhile AFP reported that, Indonesia needed regional cooperation from its fellow members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to improve its ability to tackle the forest fires which have provoked anger among Malaysians, the state news agency Antara said.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has pledged to take firm action against those responsible for the fires, his spokesman said Friday.

"Firm action will be taken against those responsible," said presidential spokesman Dino Patti Jalal, quoting the president. Environmentalists, however, said corruption and law enforcement problems were frustrating efforts to bring to justice plantation companies accused of causing forest fires.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Weekend

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