Indonesia has shot back at claims that the nation is solely responsible for fires that have created a thick haze across parts of Malaysia this week and forced the closure of hundreds of schools.
“The Indonesian government has been systematically trying to resolve this to the best of its ability. Not all smog is from Indonesia,” Indonesian Minister of Environment and Forestry Siti Nurbaya Bakar said in a statement on Wednesday.
Siti Nurbaya accused Malaysia of a lack of transparency, saying the smog affecting Malaysia could have originated from Sarawak, peninsular Malaysia or Indonesian Borneo.
“The Malaysian government should explain this objectively,” she said.
On Wednesday, Malaysian Minister of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Yeo Bee Yin (楊美盈) wrote on Facebook: “Let the data speak for itself. Minister Siti Nurbaya should not be in denial.”
In the post Yeo included data from the ASEAN Specialised Meteorological Centre, which showed the total number of hotspots in Kalimantan was 474, with 387 in Sumatra. By comparison, only seven were recorded in Malaysia.
The Indonesian Disaster Mitigation Agency said more than 3,600 fires had been detected on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo by weather satellites, leading to very poor air quality in six provinces with a combined population of more than 23 million.
On Friday last week, Malaysia sent a diplomatic note urging Indonesia to take immediate action to address the fires.
Malaysia has shut more than 400 schools in the eastern state of Sarawak and sent 500,000 pollution masks to the area to combat poor air quality.
Indonesia has said that the smog affecting Malaysia and other areas in Southeast Asia is also from fires across the region, including in peninsular Malaysia and Vietnam.