Malaysia declared a state of
emergency in two parts of the southern state of Johor on Sunday as smoke from
land-clearing fires in Indonesia pushed air pollution above the level
The illegal burning of forests
and other land on Indonesia's Sumatra island, to the west of peninsular
Malaysia and Singapore, to clear space for palm oil plantations is a chronic
problem during the June-September dry season.
The "haze" caused by
fires in Riau province on Sumatra has also shrouded neighbouring Singapore but
air quality in the city state improved over the weekend after reaching
hazardous levels there.
"Prime Minister Najib Razak
has agreed to declare emergency status in Muar and Ledang with immediate
effect," Malaysian Natural Resources and Environment Minister G. Palanivel
said in a Facebook post. Palanivel said the air pollution index in the two
districts had exceeded 750. A reading above 300 indicates that air pollution is
Neither Palanivel nor the prime
minister's office could be reached for comment.
A spokesman at the Johor state
operations centre told Reuters that it was awaiting orders from the National
Security Council and that residents in the affected areas should stay indoors.
Indonesian officials have deflected
blame by suggesting companies based in Malaysia and Singapore may be partly
responsible. Malaysia-listed Sime Darby and Singapore's Wilmar Group both deny