(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday): Sabahans are very unhappy that both the Federal and Sabah State Governments are downplaying the severity of the haze problem in Sabah State although it has created grave health hazards as well as visibility problems. Visibility in Kota Kinabalu this morning, for instance, is down to 600 metres.
Thirty-nine firemen from Kota Kinabalu and nine firemen from Beaufort have been sent to Sipitang to fight the peat fires razing in an area covering 40 hectares, but the firemen were left to their own devices without much assistance, and not even provided with proper accommodation, having to sleep at the balai raya.
Sabahans ask if Malaysia could send firemen to Kalimantan and Indonesia to fight forest fires, why more serious attention could not be given by both the Federal and State Governments to the serious haze problem in Sabah, which stretches from after Kota Kinabalu right up to Lawas and Miri for the past three weeks, caused by several plantation and peat fires in the state.
The Sabah Chief Minister has not said a word about the Sabah haze problem and the Sabah State Environment Minister, Bernard Dompok is in Berlin to attract more tourists to come to Sabah - ignoring the haze problem in the state.
Tourists who visited Sabah in the past three weeks felt cheated and complained to the hoteliers in the state as to why they had not been informed about the haze problem so that they could be better prepared for it.
The Information Minister and the Chairman of the National Disaster Management Committee, Datuk Mohamad Rahmat should explain whether there is a deliberate Cabinet policy to downplay the seriousness of the haze problem in Sabah so as to avoid damage to the tourism industry, and whether he is aware that such a policy is short-sighted and counter-productive and not in the long-term interests of the tourism industry whether in Sabah or Malaysia.