Haze over Malaysia shuts schools down

Malaysian authorities decide to close schools for two days due to worsening haze from Indonesian forest fires

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

Haze caused by smoke from burning forests in neighboring Indonesia.

A Malaysian boy wears a mask due to the haze in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Many Malaysian schools were closed for two days to protect children from possible health risks over thick haze from Indonesian forest fires.

"The haze that is happening is beyond our control," said Education Minister Mahdzir Khalid.

"This issue has to be addressed wisely and quickly as it can do harm to our children. We will not compromise with anything that may bring harm to our children in schools," Khalid said.

The haze spread to Thailand on Monday for the first time and it accentuate the regional nature of a problem that is being accused on Indonesia’s inability to avoid plantation companies from burning forests to clear land for new trees.

The persistent smog affected several airports and they closed for hours on Sunday. A popular annual marathon in Kuala Lumpur was also canceled and Singapore canceled its swimming world cup due to fear of unhealthy smoke.

Nearly half of Malaysia's 52 pollutant monitoring stations around the country had ‘’unhealthy’’ air quality on Sunday. Six stations, including one in Kuala Lumpur reached ‘’very unhealthy’’ levels.

Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia Zahid Hamidi said Indonesia should discuss long term measures to solve the crisis and find more help from its Asian neighbors.

We hope its commitment is not only on paper or mere statements pleasant to the ears, but through implementation which could end all haze problems," he was quoted as saying by Bernama.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo said it was ''not a problem that you can solve quickly.''  

More than 20,000 people, including troops have been trying to put out the fires.  

TRTWorld and agencies