morning of June 28th, 2013
haze from Penang Hill 8.30AM 24 June
It’s getting better.
morning of 23 June
I first notice the haze on the 18th – it had finally stopped raining heavily every day. The 21st was not as bad as last year. And today, the 22nd, I climbed Penang Hill. Here is the morning view…
haze from Penang Hill morning of 22 June
Descending from the summit I met a resident of Johore, and he told me that trying to breathe there was like breathing sand. He came here for the weekend to escape the air. I guess it’s not as bad here.
I was up early to watch dawn on the summer solstice. Fat chance. There was an impenetrable haze.
looking towards Gurney drive, Tanjung Tokong and Straits Quays
The rainy season seemed to end on Saturday June 9th, and then Sunday 10th was a beautiful, clear, sunny day. From Monday the haze appeared, and it has been hazy ever since. It feels like the haze began earlier this year than in previous years, and seems also to be more persistent, and worse.
Government readings show the Air Pollution Index has hit unhealthy levels in some areas. In previous years I never noticed it affecting my health, but for the past few days I have been coughing, and worse.
“Haze caused by forest fires in neighbouring Indonesia blanketed parts of Malaysia including the capital Saturday, causing air pollution to hit unhealthy levels.
Haze is an annual problem during the monsoon season from May to September as winds blow the fumes from Sumatra across the Malacca Strait to Malaysia.” Source, Inquirer News
This is what we have been told, generally – it’s Indonesian farmers causing the problem, year after year.
“Indonesia’s government has outlawed land-clearing by fire but weak law enforcement means the ban is largely ignored.” ibid.
The Malaysian Meteorological Department attributes blame for haze in general to many factors, such as the weather conditions during these months, but does say, “Firstly, we should refrain from open burning of waste. Most incidences of local haze can be traced to this activity.” MOSTI So, this department is more circumspect. Is it really largely the fault of Indonesian farmers?
Today’s print edition of the Sun (the online version does not correlate closely with print edition) says that 150,000 masks have been distributed to schools, and that the state of Penang was moving its outdoor activities indoors for this week. Band-Aids, not a solution.
As this happens year after year, one would think the causes would be well-known, and action would have been taken by now to solve the problem. But the state officials are merely urging the Federal government to find a solution.
I would have thought that civil legal action could be taken by the Federal and State governments of Malaysia in Indonesia, or some other venue, against the individuals who are causing the problem, obviously choosing one or more large landowners to start with. I suppose Indonesia does not have the common law, which would be straightforward, but still, harming people’s health must be unlawful. Should the case be won, other large-scale landowners would have to desist. If indeed it is the Indonesian farmers’ fault. There seems little point targetting governments or corporations as they have unlimited funds to fight; and anyway, it is always individuals that make decisions within those institutions, so individuals should bear the responsibility. I am not happy that individuals somewhere are deliberately making me sick.
This season is the best of the year for tropical fruit – durian, mangosteen, rambutans, dragon fruit etc. so it would be a pity, not to mention inconvenient to leave the country for these months.
Eventually the sun was strong enough to appear through the haze this morning.
summer solstice – not quite dawn, but at least the sun appeared
The morning was very windy, and some of the haze was blown away, so around lunch it was quite a bit clearer. But not really clear.
Again looking towards Straits Quays, after lunch
Finally, sunset on the summer solstice.
summer solstice sunset