(Ipoh, Friday): The Government should give accurate, full and timely information about the haze disaster to the people and to stop putting out conflicting and confusing statements.
The people, today, are thoroughly confused. In the New Straits Times today, the Minister for Science, Technology and Environment, Datuk Law Hieng Ding warned the people and the relevant agencies to be on guard as a change in wind direction had been predicted which could worsen the haze in some parts of the country.
The page lead report, under the heading "Law: Wind change may worsen haze" continued:
"The Meteorological Services Department has forecast a change in wind direction for the next few days which might blow back the smoke from Indonesia to the south of the Peninsula, including Johor, and some parts of East Malaysia.
"The department reported this to the National Committee on Haze which had its monthly meeting today."
However, the Star front-page headline "Worst Is Over" carried the following report:
"Kuala Lumpur: The worst of the haze is over, says the Meteorological Services Department, because changing winds will clear the country of choking smog.
"Department deputy director-general II Yong Pok Wing said yesterday that people could expect clearer skies for the next seven months.
"However, he cautioned that southern states in the peninsula would still experience moderate haze this month."
Malaysians will be the happiest people if the worst of the haze is over, but why are the people given conflicting and confusing statements by different government agencies and officials about the haze disaster?
When the people are told that the "Worst is Over", does it mean that the Air Pollutant Index (API) in Malaysia will never again reach the "very unhealthy" level of 201 or even the "hazardous" level of 301, let alone the disastrous level of over 501 as happened in Sarawak for 10 days last month?
The National Haze Committee should take immediate action to ensure that the people are given accurate, full and timely information about the haze disaster.
In this connection, I call on Datuk Law Hieng Ding to act on the dissatisfaction of Malaysians over the charge of RM1.95 per minute imposed by Alam Sekitar Malaysia Sdn. Bhd. for telephone enquiry on the daily Air Pollutant Index readings
ASMA had introduced from Tuesday a 24-hour hotline service(600-85-6355) on the 8 a.m., 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. API readings.
ASMA had justified the charge on the ground of the high cost of service, which can receive 400 calls at any one time.
The Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment should intervene in this matter to ensure that such a hotline for regular updates of API readings should be provided free to the public.
Datuk Law had announced two days ago that studies carried out by the Chemistry Department revealed that the recent haze did not cause any significant increase in acidity level in the rain. He said the acidity level was almost the same before and during the severe haze.
Datuk Law’s statement is unable to allay public concerns about acid rain as a result of the haze, as from his statement, it would appear that the readings were up to Sept. 22. What about the acidity levels in the past two weeks, which were among the worst periods of the haze.
What the Government should do is to release daily readings of rain acidity in the country about the levels of carbonic acid, sulphuric acid and nitric acid in the rain water as the result of the reaction of carbon dioxide, sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide with rain.