Malaysia drops plans for proposed transborder haze pollution bill

Malaysia drops plans for proposed transborder haze pollution bill

The sun rises above Kuala Lumpur’s skyline on a hazy day in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia October 9, 2023. REUTERS FILE PHOTO

KUALA LUMPUR — Malaysia will not proceed with a proposed bill to prevent transborder haze pollution, its environment ministry said, citing difficulties in obtaining the necessary information for prosecution purposes.

Almost every dry season, smoke from fires to clear land for palm oil and pulp and paper plantations in Indonesia blankets much of the region, leading to concerns for public health.

In a written reply to parliament on Monday, Malaysia’s environment ministry said a diplomatic approach through negotiations was a better way to “collectively address” haze issues involving international borders.

“To enable the enforcement of a transboundary haze pollution bill, clear evidence that transboundary haze originates from neighboring countries must be supported by sufficient data such as location maps, coordinates, landowner information and companies operating in the location of fires,” the ministry said.

It said such information was difficult to obtain as it involved matters of confidentiality, security and national sovereignty.

Malaysia last month called on Indonesia and a grouping of Southeast Asian nations to take action as air quality worsened across the country due to fires in Indonesia. (This story has been corrected to change the day from Wednesday to Monday in paragraph 3)

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