ASM held its 32nd IdeaXchange session on 15 October 2019 titled The Haze Problem: A Blame Game or an Endgame?
The forum-style session featured five panellists from the government and academic sectors to discuss integrative measures that can be taken proactively to resolve the transboundary haze crisis.
The forum was moderated by Dr Nagulendran Kangayatkarasu, Deputy Secretary General (Environment and Climate Change) of the Ministry of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change (MESTECC).
The five panellists presenting during the IdeaXchange are:
Mr Gurmit Singh K.S., the Chairman of the Board of Directors at the Centre for Environment, Technology and Development (CETDEM) and representative of Malaysian Scientific Association (MSA) presented next. He highlighted the urgent need for remedial measures by ASEAN Human Rights Group (comprising members from to tackle the transboundary haze issue.
Following Mr Gurmit Singh, Dato’ Ir Dr A. Bakar Jaafar FASc, the Chairman of the ASM Local and Transboundary Haze Study, presented ASM’s efforts in addressing the haze issue: the report on Local and Transboundary Haze Study. The Study possesses a three-pronged approach to resolving the haze issue in Malaysia: understanding and assessing air quality and haze episodes; managing peat area and water; and utilising biomass to produce higher value bioproducts.
Puan Norlin Jaafar, Director General of the Department of Environment (DOE) Malaysia, presented the findings and position of relevant governmental agencies, particularly DOE following conduction of ministerial meetings. It involved actions taken by the authorities in combating the most recent haze episode, as well as an outline of the ways forward in order to better handle similar disaster in the future.
Next to present was Dr Mohd Hafiz Jaafar from the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia (USIM), providing an insight into the financial implications of haze-related respiratory illnesses. By performing partial economic analysis on local data, Dr Mohd Hafiz illustrated significant cost differences incurred during haze and non-haze episodes in Malaysia.
Rounding up the forum session was Datuk Professor Dr Awg Bulgiba Awg Mahmud FASc from the Centre for Epidemiology and Evidence-Based Practice of the Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya. He observed that funding and studies were mainly focused on addressing visible issues and manifestations, and little has been written on episodic issues like haze. The lack of long-term study and studies on the intangible aspects of haze is one of the reasons why most researchers were unclear on the effects of burning and haze in future years due to its invisible and late manifestations. If this trend continues, it might be misleading to others that the country is only interested in mitigating the exposure to haze, not to proactively prevent its future occurrence.
Following the presentations, a Q&A session was conducted to get the audience’s input on the matter. You can watch the discourse on Facebook.