11 photos of the haze show just why Mahathir is writing to Jokowi about it

Kuala Lumpur’s iconic Twin Towers shrouded in haze on September 9, 2019.
Reuters

After a diplomatic spat between the Environmental Ministers of Malaysia and Indonesia over haze responsibility, Malaysia’s Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad plans to address the topic personally in a letter to Indonesian premier Joko Widodo, Bernama has reported.

Read also: Malaysia and Indonesia are both using hotspot maps in a public battle over haze responsibility

“(Mahathir) has agreed to write to President Jokowi to bring his attention to this transboundary haze issue,” Bernama quoted Malaysia’s Environment Minister Yeo Bee Yin as saying on Thursday (Sept 12), adding that Malaysia had “received good cooperation” from Indonesian Embassy representatives over the matter.

Yeo added that Malaysia was ready to extinguish its forest fires, which numbered five on Sept 12.

“We hope that Indonesia will take responsibility for the forest fires in their country,” Bernama quoted her as saying.

Here’s everything that’s happened around the haze issue so far:


Malaysia has been hit by steadily worsening haze, with regions of the country blanketed in dusty, smoky air since Sept 5.

The air in over 20 areas has entered the “unhealthy” zone, which means an Air Pollution Index reading of between 101 to 200.

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Reuters

The situation is so dire that Malaysia has banned all open burning and is launching cloud-seeding operations in Sarawak.

The King even issued a statement on Sept 12 advising citizens to avoid going outdoors, and to drink at least eight glasses of water a day.

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Reuters

 Kuala Lumpur’s skyline all but disappeared behind the haze on Sept 11, although several valiant tourists still attempted to take selfies with it.

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Reuters

On Sept 12, tourists were still queuing up for attractions like KL Tower and the Petronas Twin Towers, with the former handing out masks to visitors going on the Sky Deck.

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Reuters

19 schools in KL suspended classes on Thursday (Sept 12) – joining 29 in Selangor, 16 in Rompin, three in Klang and 409 in Sarawak, one of the worst-affected areas.

The Government also distributed over 50,000 face masks to students.

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Reuters

Meanwhile, neighbouring Singapore – which does not suffer from forest fires – was also affected, with haze permeating swathes of the city.

Its Government warned citizens on Sept 13 that a change in wind direction could result in a situation as dire as Malaysia’s.

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Reuters

 Malaysia is blaming the haze on forest fires in the Indonesian regions of Sumatra and Kalimantan, some of which are caused by traditional slash-and-burn techniques to clear land for farming.

Indonesia has been sending firefighters to extinguish these peatland fires, such as this one in a palm plantation.

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Antara Foto/Rony Muharrman via Reuters

The total number of hotspots in Kalimantan and Sumatra is over 1,000. In the South Kalimantan province of Banjarbaru, the haze caused entire roads to look cloudy and white as early as Sept 6.

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Antara Foto/Bayu Pratama S via Reuters

Entire cities in Indonesia were also shrouded in smog, such as Pekanbaru in the Riau province.

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Antara Foto/FB Anggoro via Reuters

In an effort to end the drought, Malaysia’s National Disaster Management Agency has recommended all mosques in the country hold prayers for rain, called solat istisqa.

Similar prayers were held by Muslims in Indonesia on Sept 11.

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Antara Foto/Rony Muharrman via Reuters

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