FIRES AND ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES IN MALAYSIA

ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES IN MALAYSIA

Environmental issues in Malaysia include: “air pollution from industrial and vehicular emissions; water pollution from raw sewage; deforestation; smoke/haze from Indonesian forest fires. Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy:181.9 million Mt (2010 est.), country comparison to the world: 30. [Source: CIA World Factbook]

Environment - international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands. Signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements.

According to a survey of expatriates living in Asia: India, China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia and Hong Kong are regarded as the dirtiest places in Asia, while Singapore, Japan and Malaysia were regarded as the cleanest. Thailand, South Korea and Taiwan were in the middle.

Malaysia faces many natural hazards, particularly flooding, landslides, and forest fires. Human-induced transformation of the environment is often regarded as more problematic than natural disasters but less so than in other Asian countries. Automobile emissions are Malaysia’s major source of air pollution, but air quality indicators for Malaysian cities tend to indicate cleaner air than in most other Asian cities. Livestock farming, domestic sewage, and landclearing have contributed to river pollution, but government documents do not suggest that river pollution is widespread or acutely problematic. Oil and grease have polluted coastal waters in all states and groundwater in some areas, and rates of deforestation increased from 0.4 percent annually during the 1990s to 0.7 percent annually from 2000 to 2005. [Source: Library of Congress, 2006]

Malaysia suffers from urban sprawl and traffic congestion in its capital Kuala Lumpur, and a lack of basic services in rural areas. DDT is still used, in part because it is effective in controlling mosquitos that carry the malaria parasite (1999, Source: World Wildlife Fund). The government has ordered academics not to make reports about pollution. At the same time a judge has ordered work to stop at a dam in Borneo over environmental reason and concerns about the rights of indigenous people.

Malaysia’s Plan to Build 'Green Economy'

In May 2011, Malaysia announced an ambitious plan to build a "green economy" with the help of an advisory council that includes economist Jeffrey Sachs and the UN climate change chief. AFP reported: “The initiative is part of economic reforms instituted by Prime Minister Najib Razak aimed at pushing the Southeast Asian country towards developed-nation status by 2020. Malaysia's vision of a "green economy" would see it moving beyond its status as a manufacturing hub, and establish "low carbon emissions, highly efficient use of resources, and a healthy, well-educated populace." [Source: AFP, May 18, 2011]

"Malaysia's ambitious goal is to simultaneously reduce poverty and achieve a green economy," Najib said in a statement from New York. "We see science and technology innovation as key to achieving that goal, guided by the advice and active support of some of the world's most distinguished entrepreneurial, scientific and economic experts. These experts will liaise and work actively with key Malaysian agencies and institutions to develop 'quick wins' in the palm oil industry, in the creation of a smart city and smart village, and in education." As well as Sachs and Rajendra Pachauri, the chairman of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the panel also includes media tycoon Steve Forbes and two Nobel laureates.

Najib said the council would aim to "raise the number of scientifically and technically-trained individuals, entrepreneurs and innovators in our country." Malaysia also hopes to develop smart cities and villages, where the Internet is available and resources, such as water and electricity, are managed efficiently through information technology.

Malaysia suffers from urban sprawl and traffic congestion in its capital Kuala Lumpur, and a lack of basic services in rural areas. Malaysia has previously sought out high-profile international advisers like Microsoft's Bill Gates when it launched its Multimedia Super Corridor project to build up its information technology industry in the 1990s. "It's a very fuzzy thing; we don't know what it is... The word 'green' is used very broadly," Gurmit Singh, chairman of the Centre For Environment, Technology and Development Malaysia, said of the latest scheme. "There seems to be a lot of hot air. In terms of what happens sometimes at the ground level, it's a repackaging of projects," he told AFP.

Sunderland Biological Hotspot

The Sundaland region, which include peninsular Malaysia, Borneo, Sumatra, Java and Bali, has been designated a biodiversity hotspot designated by Conservation International. According to the Conservation International website: “The spectacular flora and fauna of the Sundaland Hotspot are succumbing to the explosive growth of industrial forestry in these islands and to the international animal trade that claims tigers, monkeys, and turtle species for food and medicine in other countries. Populations of the orangutan, found only in this hotspot, are in dramatic decline. Some of the last refuges of two Southeast Asia rhino species are also found on the islands of Java and Sumatra. Like many tropical areas, the forests are being cleared for commercial uses. Rubber, oil palm, and pulp production are three of the most detrimental forces facing biodiversity in the Sundaland Hotspot.[Source: Conservation International website]

Data: 2) Hotspot Original Extent (km²): 1,501,063; 2) Hotspot Vegetation Remaining (km²): 100,571; 3) Endemic Plant Species: 15,000; 4) Endemic Threatened Birds: 43; 5) Endemic Threatened Mammals : 60; 6) Endemic Threatened Amphibians; 59; 7) Extinct Species: 4; 8) Human Population Density (people/km²): 153; 9) Area Protected (km²) 179,723; 10) Area Protected (km²) in Categories I-IV 77,408. [Ibid]

The Sundaland hotspot covers the western half of the Indo-Malayan archipelago, an arc of some 17,000 equatorial islands, and is dominated by two of the largest islands in the world: Borneo (725,000 km²) and Sumatra (427,300 km²). More than a million years ago, the islands of Sundaland were connected to mainland Asia. As sea levels changed during the Pleistocene, this connection periodically disappeared, eventually leading to the current isolation of the islands. The topography of the hotspot ranges from the hilly and mountainous regions of Sumatra and Borneo, where Mt. Kinabalu rises to 4,101 meters, to the fertile volcanic soils of Java and Bali, the former dominated by 23 active volcanoes. Granite and limestone mountains rising to 2,189 meters are the backbone of the Malay Peninsula. [Ibid]

Politically, Sundaland covers a small portion of southern Thailand (provinces of Pattani, Yala, and Narathiwat); nearly all of Malaysia (nearly all of Peninsular Malaysia and the East Malaysian states of Sarawak and Sabah in northern Borneo); Singapore at the tip of the Malay Peninsula; all of Brunei Darussalam; and all of the western half of the megadiversity country of Indonesia, including Kalimantan (the Indonesian portion of Borneo, Sumatra, Java, and Bali). The Nicobar Islands, which are under Indian jurisdiction, are also included. [Ibid]

Sundaland is bordered by three hotspots. The boundary between the Sundaland Hotspot and the Indo-Burma Hotspot to the northwest is here taken as the Kangar-Pattani Line, which crosses the Thailand-Malaysia border. Wallacea lies immediately to the east of the Sundaland Hotspot, separated by the famous Wallace’s Line, while the 7,100 islands of the Philippines Hotspot lie immediately to the northeast. [Ibid]

Lowland rainforests are dominated by the towering trees of the family Dipterocarpaceae. Sandy and rocky coastlines harbor stands of beach forest, while muddy shores are lined with mangrove forests, replaced inland by large peat swamp forests. In some places, ancient uplifted coral reefs support specialized forests tolerant of the high levels of calcium and magnesium in these soils. Infertile tertiary sandstone ridges support heath forest. Higher elevations boast montane forests thick with moss, lichens, and orchids, while further up, scrubby subalpine forests are dominated by rhododendrons. At the very tops of the highest mountain peaks, the land is mostly rocky and without much vegetation. [Ibid]

Air Pollution, Smog and Fires in Indonesia

Malaysia can become quite smoggy, especially when smoke from plantation and slash and burn fires in Indonesia blows over to Malaysia. Air pollution data has been deemed an “official secret” and is not released to the public. A contractor that installed pollution monitoring equipment was required to sign an agreement with the government that it would not reveal any of the information they collected.Air Pollution includes particles of soot, organic hazardous material, heavy metals, acid aerosols and dust. The smaller particles are more dangerous because they are more easily inhaled.

In October 2010, more than 200 schools in southern Malaysia were ordered closed after a drop in air quality due to haze from fires in Indonesia. Associated Press reported: “Mohamad Adha Shah Mohamad Basir says the schools in Muar district were told to shut Thursday. Department of Environment readings showed pollution levels in the district in southern Johor state were potentially hazardous earlier. Air quality was moderate after morning rains. Mohamad Adha Shah says the schools were shut as a precaution. The state is distributing face masks to all public servants and students. [Source: Associated Press, October 20, 2010]

Malaysia Haze Points to a Regional Problem

Liz Gooch wrote in the New York Times, “For much of the year, the Petronas Towers, the world’s tallest twin buildings, are gleaming landmarks visible far from the city center here. But in mid June 2012, the 88-story structures were shrouded in a smoky haze that prompted doctors to warn people with respiratory problems to wear masks. The haze, attributed mostly to fires burning on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, has become a recurring summer blight, engulfing parts of Malaysia, Thailand, Brunei and Singapore, and leaving a litany of health and economic costs in its wake. [Source: Liz Gooch, New York Times, June 23, 2012 \=/]

“Experts say that some progress has been made in the 15 years since the Association of Southeast Asian Nations first pledged to combat the problem, after one of the worst forest fires in the region’s history. That fire was traced to the clearing of land by burning in Indonesia. But experts say far more must be done before the area will see clearer skies, including better law enforcement and international cooperation. \=/

“The haze that hit Kuala Lumpur at the this time was the worst so far this year, according to Halimah Hassan, director general of Malaysia’s Department of Environment, with readings on the air pollution index exceeding the threshold for unhealthy. A few days later, winds had begun pushing the haze north. ASEAN’s Web site on the haze reported that the smoke was also affecting southern Thailand. The skies over Kuala Lumpur were clearer, and pollution levels in the capital had dropped to mostly moderate levels. But unhealthy levels were reported in Miri, in Sarawak State, on the island of Borneo, because of a peat fire that started in the area. Ms. Halimah warned that the haze could continue to be a problem in the coming months, given predictions of dry weather and southwesterly winds until September. \=/

“Hassan said, fires in Indonesia were primarily responsible for pushing the air pollution index to unhealthy levels. A major source of smoke, researchers say, are fires set on palm oil and rubber plantations, primarily in Sumatra, to get rid of old trees and to clear land for new plantations. The 1997 forest fires in Indonesia smothered Southeast Asia in its worst haze in decades, with another severe episode occurring in 2005, said Euston Quah, a professor of environmental economics at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. \=/

FIRES IN BORNEO

Forest fires often break out in the region during dry spells because of the spread of illegal land-clearing fires, or carelessly discarded cigarettes. Borneo suffered a massive forest fire in the 1980s. See Indonesia

Kuala Lumpur reported unhealthy air quality levels in 1997, when brush fires in Indonesia destroyed some 10 million hectares (25 million acres) of vegetation, cloaking much of Southeast Asia with haze. Malaysia rushed firefighters to Indonesia. Economic losses from those fires topped US$9.3 billion and prompted a 2002 agreement among six of the ten Association of Southeast Asian Nations members to fight fire pollution.

During the period of haze and fires in 1997, officials at the Southeast Asia Games in Kuala Lumpur were unable to start the games when they wanted to when haze blocked out sunlight that was supposed to be focused by a huge magnifying glass into a giant bowl to produce a flame.

Indonesian Forest Fires in 2005 Blanket Malaysia in Haze

In August 2005, forest fires in Indonesia's Sumatra province covered Kuala Lumpur and other cities and towns in Malaysia with a smoky haze that reduced visibility to as low as one kilometer (half a mile). Associated Press reported: “The Department of Environment said air quality in an area in central Perak state was "unhealthy," and it downgraded air quality in 32 other areas nationwide, including Kuala Lumpur, from "good" to "moderate." It said in a statement that satellite images showed 587 "hot spots," or fires, in Riau and northern Sumatra in Indonesia. The province is separated from peninsular Malaysia by the narrow Malacca Strait. [Source: Associated Press, August 4, 2005]

Seventeen hot spots were also seen in Malaysia's Sarawak state, and 16 in Indonesia's Kalimantan province, both on Borneo island, it said. "Southwesterly winds are blowing from Sumatra to Malaysia. We can expect the hazy conditions to persist for the next one to two days until the wind direction changes," a weather forecaster at the meteorological department told The Associated Press. In Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia's biggest city and its financial capital, traffic slowed to a crawl as nothing could be seen beyond a distance of one kilometer (a half mile). The acrid smell of burning vegetation filled the air.

Vijay Joshi of Associated Press wrote: Malaysia's leader declared an emergency in two regions, closing workplaces and calling on mosques to hold special prayers for rain to rid the country of hazardous haze drifting from forest fires in neighboring Indonesia. The worst environmental crisis to hit Malaysia in eight years is threatening public health and disrupting traffic by reducing visibility. Hundreds of forest fires on Indonesia's Sumatra Island, just across the Malacca Strait, have stoked choking, acrid haze that causes eyes to redden and leaves throats raspy. The fires are an annual occurrence, and Malaysian officials have expressed frustration over Indonesia's failure to tackle the problem. Indonesia's forestry minister, Malam Sambat Kaban, countered that 10 Malaysian firms clearing land in Indonesia had contributed to the problem. The two countries did agree Thursday to use cloud seeding to try to induce rain over the forest fires. [Source: Vijay Joshi, Associated Press, August 11, 2005]

The smoke has blown over the western coast of Malaysia, shrouding its biggest city, Kuala Lumpur, its capital, Putrajaya, the technology city Cyberjaya and the biggest port district, Port Klang. "In my office, things look normal, but if I go down to the building's lobby area, I can smell smoke. Even in the basement car park I can smell smoke," said Liew Cow Yuan, a consultant with the DHL Express Global Data Center in Cyberjaya.

The haze is a mixture of dust, ash, sulfur dioxide and carbon dioxide. Travel agents said the haze would have minimal impact on tourism because key destinations such as Langkawi and Penang in northern Malaysia were not affected. However, Malaysia's benchmark stock index slipped amid worries that prolonged haze could undercut palm oil exports, tourism and other economic sectors. The Meteorology Department said no respite was expected until October, when rains would help.

State of Emergency Declared and Open Fires banned During the 2005 Forest-Fire-Induced Haze

Vijay Joshi of Associated Press wrote: “Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi declared a state of emergency in Port Klang and in Kuala Selangor, a tourist area known for its fireflies, after the air pollution index reached 500 -- the emergency level. It is the first time the 500-level has been breached in Malaysia. Under the emergency rules, Port Klang, the country's biggest and busiest harbor, will be shut down. All educational institutions and government and private workplaces will also be closed, including factories, construction sites and quarries. [Source: Vijay Joshi, Associated Press, August 11, 2005 >>>]

“However, supermarkets, shops selling food and drinks, pharmacies and essential services will remain open. Road work will be suspended and the use of personal cars and trucks will be discouraged. Four other areas, including the financial capital Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya, had air pollution levels above 300. Schools in and around Kuala Lumpur were closed for two days. But people went to work Thursday, many wearing surgical masks that offered little protection from the noxious air. Landmarks in Kuala Lumpur, such as the tops of the Petronas Twin Towers vanished in the haze. Acrid smoke seeped into office air-conditioning systems. >>>

"The air is so bad that my eyes are stinging," said Gerard Miranda, a 31-year-old shopper. "I had breathing difficulties when I was outside this building, probably because I've a sinus problem that is being aggravated by the haze." >>>

New agencies reported: “Schools in Selangor would be closed for the rest of this week, state Chief Minister Khir Toyo said. Bernama said the worsening haze had forced authorities at the country's biggest port, Port Klang, to halt operations for 90 minutes. But the port would remain closed if the situation worsened, it quoted port authority chairman Yap Pian Hon as saying. An airport on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur closed as visibility fell below 300m, grounding the small government and private jets that use it. Asthma attacks have soared and tourists are holing up in hotels or seeking refuge in air-conditioned malls at one of the busiest times. Tour operators said they were in talks to find ways to dispel travelers' fears over the haze. [Source: Agencies, August 12, 2005]

Earlier Associated Press reported: “Malaysia has banned most forms of open burning, including camp fires and outdoor cooking, in a desperate measure to ease the stifling haze blanketing Kuala Lumpur and surrounding areas due to smoke from forest fires in neighboring Indonesia. The Meteorological Department repeated a low visibility warning to vessels plying the Malacca Strait, a busy shipping lane that separates peninsular Malaysia and Indonesia's Sumatra island. "The situation is hazardous to ships without navigational equipment," the department said. Visibility was around 1 kilometer (about half a mile) over the central and southern area of the channel, it said. [Source: Associated Press, August 9, 2005 /*/]

“The Natural Resources and Environment Ministry said in a statement received Tuesday that the air in seven areas including the capital Putrajaya and the country's largest city Kuala Lumpur has become unhealthy from the haze.The dirty white acrid haze has hung over the Klang Valley which comprises Kuala Lumpur, making it unhealthy to walk outdoors. Doctors have reported a rise in the number of patients suffering from sore throats and nasal congestion, the New Straits Times reported. /*/

“The ban on open fires includes burning of animal and bird carcasses, solid fuels, diseased plants, camp fires, leaves, tree branches, yard trimmings, industrial inflammable gases and structures for fire control training. However, outdoor grills, barbecues and burning of articles as part of religious rites are permitted, the ministry statement said. Those engaged in open burning could face a maximum fine of 500,000 ringgit (US$133,500; euro111,250) and five years' jail. /*/

“The Star newspaper quoted Indonesia's Environment Minister Rachmat Witoelar as saying that he was sorry Malaysia is facing problems because of his country. "The haze has become more acute for our neighbors ... and we are truly sorry for this. We are very concerned about the worsening situation, caused mainly by open burning in Sumatra," he was quoted as saying. /*/

Praying for Rain and Other Efforts to End the Fires in 2005

Malaysia’s prime minister urged people to seek divine help to overcome the crisis and called on mosques to hold special prayers for rain that would wash away the haze. "This is my approach. When such things happen, we must also pray to God to seek help," Abdullah told reporters.

The BBC reported: “Malaysia's Muslim community has been asked to pray for rain to lift the smog that has enveloped the capital and surrounding areas. "When something like this happens, we have to ask for God's help," said Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi. The smog is drifting across to Malaysia from land clearance fires on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. The haze has eased slightly since Malaysia declared an emergency in two badly affected areas. But many people are continuing to wear face masks, some schools remain closed and the air in six districts is still classed as hazardous. [Source: BBC, August 12, 2005]

“More than 1,000 separate fires are still burning in Sumatra, and Indonesian officials have warned that it could be several days before they are brought under control. The remoteness of some areas and a lack of resources are hampering efforts to extinguish the fires. Malaysia has offered to send reinforcements, but is reported to be waiting for Indonesia to give the go ahead.

Jasbant Singh of Associated Press wrote: “Officials from the two countries agreed that joint cloud seeding operations to create artificial rain over burning forests would begin August 22 in Sumatra and Borneo, said Koes Saparjati, an Indonesian Forestry Ministry official in Jakarta. Cloud seeding involves releasing a chemical at high altitude to accelerate the formation of rain-producing clouds. It has been tried in the past with mixed results, and many scientists have questioned its efficacy. [Source: Jasbant Singh, Associated Press, August 16, 2005]

The haze dissipated in Malaysia after about ten days with changing winds and rains.

Corruption, Causes and Blame for the Forest Fires in 2005

The BBC reported: “Critics say corruption, a lack of funds and poor law enforcement are to blame for many of the fires. Environmentalists accuse big palm oil producers in the area of using the cheap but dangerous slash-and-burn method to clear land for their plantations - a method they need official permits to use. But in practice, these permits are often easy to obtain and even if the firms accidentally start a fire, they are rarely prosecuted, due to what many environmental campaigners claim is an increasingly fraudulent system. [Source: BBC, August 12, 2005]

"Corruption and collusion is rampant. It's become public knowledge and no longer a secret," Ruly Syumanda, a spokesman for an Indonesian environmental watchdog, told the French news agency AFP. While criticism has been heaped on Indonesia for failing to stop practices which can lead to forest fires, many of the large palm oil firms in the area are actually owned by businessmen from Malaysia.

In comments likely to spark fresh controversy, the Indonesian forestry minister said on Friday that at least 10 Malaysian plantation companies were operating in the affected area of Sumatra. Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi vowed that action would be taken against any Malaysian companies caught burning forests in Indonesia. "I feel very wretched. By now, they should have realised that what they did would have an impact here in Malaysia, their own country," he told the Associated Press.

In Kuala Lumpur, many people believe the blame lies squarely with Indonesia. Dozens of demonstrators turned up outside the Indonesian embassy in Kuala Lumpur on Friday, angry that nothing had been done to put a stop to the problem. The Malaysian media also criticised Indonesia for not having signed a regional agreement on cross-border pollution.

Combating the Causes of the Forest Fires in 2005

Jasbant Singh of Associated Press wrote: “Indonesia is free to prosecute Malaysian-owned plantations responsible for setting forest-clearing fires on Sumatra island, the foreign minister said, as he called for a regional action plan to deal with such ecological disasters. Indonesia named 10 plantation companies—eight of them Malaysian—it wants to hold legally responsible for setting fires to clear land. The practice is illegal, but authorities have rarely enforced the anti-burning laws. Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar told reporters that the Malaysian government will not interfere or protest if Indonesia prosecutes the Malaysian companies operating on Sumatra that were identified as having contributed to the problem. “If any Malaysian companies flout laws of the country they operate in, action should be taken. We will not interfere,” he said. The comment put to rest fears of another diplomatic spat between the two countries, who have often exchanged words over territorial rights, illegal Indonesian migrants in Malaysia and other problems. [Source: Jasbant Singh, Associated Press, August 16, 2005]

“Syed Hamid said the pollution issue should not be seen as one country’s problem. He said the Association of Southeast Asian Nations already has an agreement on tackling haze, but the pact was ineffective because it lacks specifics. “This agreement must be translated into an action plan and have a mechanism that can be operationalized when such situations occur,” he said. “Agreement is one part, implementation is another.”

Syed Hamid said. “We need to cooperate effectively on issues such as haze,” he said. Syed Hamid also called on ASEAN’s 10 members, who include Malaysia and Indonesia, to standardize their environment laws and have a common standard for air quality. “We must put in place necessary mechanism in order to prevent it from happening again,” he said. He dismissed suggestions that Indonesia was being lackadaisical in dealing with the problem. “Let’s not make insinuations. I think Indonesia is much interested in the well being of the region,” he said.

Liz Gooch wrote in the New York Times, “The 1997 haze cost Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and southern Thailand $4.5 billion, including from health costs and a decline in tourism, Mr. Quah said. In response, ASEAN members developed a Regional Haze Action Plan to monitor and combat the pollution caused by land and forest fires. In 2002, they signed the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution. [Source: Liz Gooch, New York Times, June 23, 2012 \=/]

“Ten years later, Indonesia remains the only country in the bloc not to have ratified the agreement. However, at an ASEAN meeting in May, environment ministers said that Indonesia had begun the process of ratification, according to a statement on the body’s Web site. Mr. Quah said he believed that the Indonesian government was not ready to meet the terms of the agreement. For example, he said, it would have to demonstrate a speedy response from all levels of government when fires broke out, a challenging task in the huge archipelago. \=/

“ASEAN ministers noted that Indonesia had reduced the number of hot spots, areas with the potential for uncontrolled fires, but environmental experts say that better law enforcement is needed. While clearing land by burning is now banned in Indonesia, Mr. Quah said he was not aware of a single case in which a plantation owner had been prosecuted for a fire set on his property. He said the government should also provide incentives for villagers to report fires before they get out of control. “If they report fires early, then they should be rewarded, either with gifts in kind or money so that we can control the small fires quickly,” Mr. Quah said.

Malaysia has provided Indonesia with firefighting equipment and firefighters, while Singapore has supplied satellite-imaging equipment to detect hot spots, he said. \=/

“Kurnia Rauf, director of the forest fire control division in the Indonesian Forestry Ministry, said that tracking down the people responsible for illegal burning was difficult. “They set fires to open the area for planting because it’s much faster and easier,” he said. He added that his division was trying to educate people about hot spot indicators. Local forestry officials were also leading ground checks, he said, and people could report hot spots to the forest fire control task force via cellphone. \=/

“Anthony Tan, executive director of the Center for Environment, Technology and Development, Malaysia, an independent research organization in Kuala Lumpur, urged a broad view of the problem. He said that while blame was typically directed at Indonesia, fires in other countries also contributed to the haze. “ASEAN as a bloc has to look at this problem as an ASEAN problem,” he said. \=/

Image Sources:

Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, and various books, websites and other publications.

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© 2008 Jeffrey Hays

Last updated June 2015

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