Tensions arise between Malaysia and Indonesia over haze


The haze situation in Malaysia has worsened in September compared to the month before. In August, Indonesian President Joko Widodo visited Malaysia and Singapore. Then, he said was embarrassed over the haze issue as it was caused by forest fire in Indonesia.


The top influencer on the haze issue in August was Malaysia Metrological Department (METMalaysia) director-general Jailan Simon. He announced that the source of the haze was caused by the forest fires in Kalimantan and Sumatera.


Additionally, he said Malaysia experienced haze due to the Southwest Monsoon season as the wind is blown from the southeast direction towards Sarawak and Peninsular Malaysia.



According to media intelligence, the haze issue was consistently reported by the media during the first half of August. However, the issue slowed down by the second half of August until the first week of September.


On September 7, the haze issue started to be reported in the media again, mentioned in 67 articles. It became a bigger issue in the following days, discussed in almost 250 articles daily on September 11 and 12.



As the haze worsened in September, so did the tension between the two countries. Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin lashed out at her Indonesian counterpart Siti Nurbaya Bakar, asking her to not be in denial.


Siti earlier claimed that the cause of the haze in Malaysia did not originate from Indonesia, but from the country itself. She also accused Malaysia for not being transparent about its own forest fires.


Subsequently, Siti was also criticized by Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister Douglas Uggah Embas for not getting the facts right.



According to data from Asean Specialised Meteorological Centre (ASMC), the haze in Peninsular Malaysia originated from Sumatra, while the haze in Sarawak was flown from Kalimantan.


Consequently, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad announced that he will write a letter to President Jokowi regarding the cross-border issue.


During Jokowi’s visit to Malaysia, Tun Mahathir personally drove him in a Proton Saga. Plus, the visit showed positive outcome for the bilateral relationship between the two neighbouring countries.


Hence, we shall not let this hazy situation cloud our judgment and hope that the issue would be resolved in a peaceful manner.