Published: Wednesday 15 August 2001

-- Many parts of Malaysia have been engulfed by a thick smog resulting from forest fires in neighbouring Indonesia, where trees are burned to clear land for cultivation. Though the Malaysian government has admitted that air quality readings are at unhealthy levels in many areas, it has refused to reveal data about pollution fearing that it would result in financial losses for the tourism industry. The country's environment ministry has even banned open burning, a move mandated by law if the air pollution index rises above 100 points. "The situation is grim as visibility has become very low," said Meena Raman, spokesperson for Sahabat Alam Malaysia, a non-governmental organisation.

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