Ministry calls for Asean-level discussions to combat haze, push for biomass energy proposal

Dr Hazland (centre) together with Jack (left) and Tsai during a meeting on Sept 29, 2023. Photo credit: Ukas

KUCHING, Sept 30: The Ministry of Energy and Environmental Sustainability (MEESTy) will propose to the Malaysia-Indonesia Socio-Economic Committee (Sosek Malindo) that neighbouring countries explore the utilisation of biomass sources for energy generation instead of forest burning for agricultural purposes, which contributes to the haze problem.

Deputy Minister Dr Hazland Abang Hipni proposed this following the detection of 2,203 hotspots in Kalimantan, compared to only four hotspots in Sarawak’s Kuching, Sri Aman, Serian, and Samarahan during the period from Sept 20 to 28.

“Burning can be avoided if our neighbours agree to use the biomass from forests in a controlled way to produce new energy instead of continuing with the burning practice.

“This is a long-term solution that benefits the environment while creating new income for the country,” he said in a news report by Sarawak Public Communications Unit (Ukas) today.

He highlighted this during a joint press conference with NREB environmental quality controller Jack Liam and assistant controller (Monitoring and Reporting) Tsai Koh Fen at his office on Friday (Sept 29).

Dr Hazland emphasised that his ministry is taking proactive measures to address the transboundary haze pollution affecting Sarawak.

To address this problem, a memorandum has been submitted to Minister of Natural Resources, Environment, and Climate Change Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad, proposing that this phenomenon be discussed at the Asean Environment Ministers Meeting to seek effective solutions.

“We have written a letter to the Federal Ministry so that there is a discussion at the Asean level because this haze is coming from neighbouring countries, not from Sarawak,” he said.

For the record, the Air Pollution Index (API) in Sarawak this year has generally ranged from good to unhealthy, with certain areas such as Serian, Samarahan, and Sri Aman recording unhealthy air quality readings on Sept 27. — DayakDaily