Immediate action by the Indonesian authorities to put out forest fires before it spread managed to curb the recurrence of cross border haze this year. Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said rainfall in Sumatra and Kalimantan, Indonesia also prevented forest fires. Pix by Mohamad Shahril Badri Saali

PUTRAJAYA: Immediate action by the Indonesian authorities to put out forest fires before it spread managed to curb the recurrence of cross border haze this year.

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said rainfall in Sumatra and Kalimantan, Indonesia also prevented forest fires.

He said Indonesia's President Joko Widodo and his Environment and Forestry Minister Dr Siti Nurbaya Baka had promised Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, who recently contacted them on their efforts to deal with the forest fires and haze.

“Indonesia is keeping their promise. I hope the conditions will continue up to October when the wind changes (from the southwest to the northeast). One more month to go, hopefully nothing worse than this happens,” he told the media after attending his ministry's monthly gathering here today.

According to the Department of Environment (DOE) portal, 12 places recorded moderate Air Pollutant Index (API) readings and 35 good API readings up to 1 pm today.

Last year forest fires in Indonesia caused cross border haze to badly hit the country, aggravated by the prevailing southwest monsoon wind.

On the female baby panda Nuan Nuan, Wan Junaidi said the ministry and Zoo Negara had not held discussions to extend the period of keeping the offspring of giant pandas Xing Xing and Liang Liang from China after next year.

"Operating costs may be high and not worth it in terms of visitors' return. They (Zoo Negara) should approach and discuss with us if they think they cannot afford to maintain the panda," he said.

He said it was also a symbol of Malaysia-China diplomatic relations and the decision to extend the panda's stay or otherwise would be made by the Cabinet.

According to the Giant Panda Protection and Research Programme agreed by Malaysia and China, Zoo Negara has to pay a one-off cost of rental amounting to US$600,000 (RM2.4 million) for the baby panda which does not include its annual insurance premium at RM200,000. - BERNAMA