‘Write to Kalimantan’

KUCHING: Sarawak Patriots Association (SPA) yesterday urged the federal Minister of Environment to write a letter of protest to Kalimantan on the transboundary haze problems.

Its president Datuk John Lau said, “We hope that the minister will write a letter of protest to the authorities in Kalimantan and the governor of Kalimantan Barat to express our disappointment that Indonesia does not live up to the agreement signed in year 2002.

“Apart from that, they did not fulfill the agreement signed in the Asian Ministerial meeting that Indonesia would take necessary regulations on transboundary haze problems.”

He said SPA received many calls yesterday, asking it to write a strong protest to the Environment Minister who was quiet on the haze sufferings of Sarawakians.

A ferry prepares to cross Sungai Rambungan some 20km away from Kuching in the hazy condition. The API reading in Kuching as at 11am stood at 248. Photo: Bernama

“The Air Pollution Index (API) in Kuching around lunch time today is 248. It is very unhealthy for us to walk outside as the haze is getting from bad to worse.

“The haze is getting thicker and heavier. Visibility is low and it is dangerous for vehicular and air traffic; the air smells smoky, dusty and is suffocating.

“The current API of 248 is very unhealthy. It may cause asthma attacks, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, breathing problems, skin itchiness, breathlessness and lung problems,” he told New Sarawak Tribune when contacted recently.

Lau added that the (Kalimantan) authorities needed to show that they cared about the wellbeing of Sarawakians.

He continued: “During the chemical hazards in Johor recently, the ministers visited the site but we have yet to see federal Minister of Environment visiting Sarawak to be with those living in here.

“SPA strongly protests to the Kalimantan authorities that every year open burning is allowed and the haze produced has affected the public in Sarawak.

“The international environment authority needs to take actions against Kalimantan, Indonesia because a friendly diplomatic mission will not work as Kalimantan haze has affected the wellbeing of Sarawakians. If the API reaches 300, the environment is hazardous to all of us in Sarawak.”