Downtown Kuching is shrouded in haze. File Photo

KUCHING: Indonesia’s Environmental Affairs and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar has denied that her country is responsible for the haze that has blanketed Malaysia, claiming instead that Sarawak and the peninsula are to be blamed.

Alleging that there was a cover-up by Malaysia, she said in a report by the Indonesian newspaper Kompas that she planned to send a protest note to the Malaysian Ambassador.

“Asap yang masuk ke Malaysia, ke Kuala Lumpur, itu dari Serawak kemudian dari Semenanjung Malaya, dan juga mungkin sebagian dari Kalimantan Barat. Oleh karena itu seharusnya obyektif menjelaskannya. (The smoke that entered Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, is from Sarawak and from Peninsular Malaysia, and also maybe some from West Kalimantan. Therefore, they should be objective in explaining it),” she said.

Siti also urged Malaysia to properly present its data on the haze blanketing Malaysia and not blame Indonesia as the sole cause of the haze.

“Karena pemerintah Indonesia betul-betul secara sistematis mencoba menyelesaikan ini dengan sebaik-baiknya. Tetapi memang harus jelas sumber dari mana, data dari mana. Polanya seperti apa. (This is because the Indonesia government is really systematic in trying to solve this issue as well as possible. But it must be clear where the source is, where the data comes from. What is the pattern),” she said.

She said that based on the results from the Meterology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG), the haze only managed to cross the Indonesian border for one hour on Sept 8.

Indonesia’s denial comes despite warnings from the Asean Specialised Meterological Centre (ASMC) that the haze will continue to affect western parts of Peninsula Malaysia and Sarawak, with hotspots expected to persist in Sumatra and Kalimantan.

ASMC added that the southern Asean region would continue to be dry, further exacerbating the conditions and added in its most recent update yesterday that persistent hotspots emitting moderate to dense smoke continued to be detected in the central and southern parts of Sumatra.

Earlier this week, Minister of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Yeo Bee Yin said the fires in Indonesia were the root cause of the haze currently blanketing Malaysia, and that such fires needed to be urgently extinguished.

Yeo also said that the Malaysian government would use all diplomatic channels to raise the urgency of taking immediate action to the Indonesian government as well as offer assistance to help Indonesia put out fires in Kalimantan and Sumatra.