Under the Malaysian Air Pollution Index, readings from zero to 50 indicate good air quality, 51 to 100 moderate, 101 to 200 unhealthy, 201 to 300 very unhealthy and 300 to 500 hazardous.
As a result of the worsening haze problem nationwide, Malaysia Airlines was forced to cancel 13 flights in Sabah and Sarawak due to poor visibility, which was reduced to just 500m.
There is something unreal in the way the government is combatting the haze problem, with the Malaysian Government saying that it would help Indonesia to fight the forest fires in South Kalimantan and Sumatra while it is itself seeking the help of France and Canada to resolve the deteriorating haze situation.
Although the Meteorological Services Department had been carrying out cloud-seeding operations to create artificial rain in the Klang Valley, except for the past two days because of the lack of cumulus clouds, this is a very short-term measure.
What is urgently needed is for the government to immediately implement the Clean Air Action Plan which had been drawn up by the Department of Environment to fight air pollution but which was put on hold by the Cabinet three years ago because of the high costs which would have to be borne by industries to meet emission reduction standards.
The cabinet should declare a state of environmental emergency to implement the Clean Air Action Plan to address the long-term problem of air pollution as well as to mobilize national support for sustainable development.