Nearly 1,500 cases of open burning in Malaysia during haze season, says deputy minister

Azril Annuar
Sri Aman Fire and Rescue Department personnel work to put out a forest fire in Kampung STC Sri Aman September 19, 2019. — Bernama pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 11 — Malaysia saw nearly 1,500 cases of open burning and forest fires during the haze season in August and September this year.

Housing and Local Government Deputy Minister Senator Datuk Raja Kamarul Bahrin told Parliament today that during the period, 763 cases of open burning in estates and 670 cases of forest fires were recorded.

“Johor had registered the highest with a total of 580 cases. In Johor, there were 428 estate fires and 152 forest fires. This is followed by Selangor with a total of 226 cases with 131 estate fires and 95 forest fires.

“Sarawak had 193 total cases with 68 estate fires and 125 forest fires. Sabah saw 179 total cases with 67 estate fires and 112 forest fires.

“This is followed by Perak with 85 total cases with 32 estate fires and 53 forest fires,” said Raja Kamarul in his reply to Bukit Bendera (PH) MP Wong Hon Wai during Question Time.

Other states mentioned include Negri Sembilan with 64 total cases (10 estate fires, 54 forest fires), Pahang with 57 cases (14 estate fires, 43 forest fires) and Terengganu with 20 total cases (2 estate fires, 18 forest fires).

The ministry had taken steps to combat open burnings and forest fires by activating the National Open Burning Action Plan and the National Haze Action Plan.

Under the action plans, the Fire and Rescue Services Department were responsible in battling the flames, with 14,600 officers equipped with various assets including helicopters and fire engines.

The ministry also conducted public engagement, education and awareness programmes to ensure that Malaysians avoid open burning.

However, Raja Kamarul said his ministry’s hands were tied when it comes to investigating and taking actions against culprits of open burning.

“On taking action against landowners who conduct open burnings, it is beyond the jurisdiction of the ministry.

“Such matters must be referred to the Environment Department because investigations must be done to identify whether or not the fire was started by the landowner, a private party or natural causes,” said Raja Kamarul.

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