Published: Monday 15 June 1998

The Malaysian government would help its neighbours to fight the haze blanketing part of the Southeast Asian region to ensure non-disruption of the Commonwealth Games.

Prime minister Mahathir Mohammed said it is going to be a daunting task for his country. Still, Malaysia is confident of reducing the amount of haze, he said. In the last two months, smoke from wildfires in parts of Malaysia have covered some areas with thick smoke, forcing airports and schools to be closed periodically.

Mohammed said his country would help Indonesia in fighting its fires if blazes break out during the Commonwealth Games, scheduled for September 11-21. Mahathir said the government has already spent nearly us $270 million for building sport venues for the Games. Recent reports have indicated that several foreign athletes and coaches are considering withdrawing from the Games in the wake of health risks from the haze.Mahathir dismissed the talk as "rumours".

The country has already begun cloud-seeding exercises to induce rainfall and is undertaking several other measures to tackle haze.

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