Emergency motion on haze under Standing Order 18 to Speaker's office
I have sent an emergency motion on haze under Standing Order 18 to Speaker’s office this morning. I was told that my motion was the first of today. It is undeniable that haze is the top priority of all Malaysians, we hope the Speaker of Dewan Rakyat will allow the motion and let Barison and Pakatan members of parliament to debate on the issue freely.
Researches have shown that haze causes not just discomfort, it kills.
In 2002, Narayan Sastry, currently a professor of demography at the University of Michigan published a paper entitled “Forest Fires, Air Pollution, and Mortality in Southeast Asia” in the February 2002 issue of the journal Demography and the salient findings were reported as follow:
“a high air pollution day associated with the smoke haze increased the total all-cause mortality by roughly 20%. Higher mortality was apparent in two locations - Kuala Lumpur and Kuching (Sarawak) – and affected mostly the elderly. In Kuala Lumpur, non-traumatic mortality among the population aged 65-74 increased about 70% following a day of high levels of air pollution. This effect was persistent; it was not simply a moving forward of deaths by a couple of days (a “harvesting” effect). This finding suggests that there were real and serious health effects of the smoke haze… one implication of these results on the short-term effects of the smoke haze in Malaysia is that the effects in Indonesia itself are likely to have been tremendous. The presence of significant mortality effects in Malaysian cities that are several hundred miles away from the main fires strongly supports this notion. Unfortunately, there are no appropriate health or mortality data for Indonesia to study this issue directly.”
In plain language, the acute (immediate) death rate among elderly people (excluding deaths due to accidents or violence) increased by 70% when API readings exceeded 210.
And Seema Jayachandran from Department of Economics of Stanford University published another paper entitled “Air Quality and Early-Life Mortality: Evidence from Indonesia's Wildfires” in the year 2008, in which he examined the impact of smoke from massive wildfires blanketed Indonesia in late 1997 had on fetal, infant, and child mortality. Exploiting the sharp timing and spatial patterns of the pollution and inferring deaths from "missing children" in the 2000 Indonesian Census, he found that the pollution led to 15,600 missing children in Indonesia (1.2% of the affected birth cohorts). He concluded that prenatal exposure to pollution largely drives the result and the effect size is much larger in poorer areas, suggesting that differential effects of pollution contribute to the socioeconomic gradient in health.
Now the haze has moved from Johor to Melaka, Negeri Sembilan and Port Klang areas. More and more Malaysians are exposed to the haze and their health, especially the elderly, fetal, infant and children are seriously at stake. And yet we do not see any constructive and aggressive measures taken by our government especially the Health Minister to take care of the health of the people. The inaction of the Najib’s administration is totally unacceptable and a debate on haze crisis is needed to send the “wake up” call to Najib and his cabinet.