It's been 16 years (think it was 1997 but better check wasn't 98) since Indonesian forest fires first shrouded Singapore and Malaysia in a smoky, choking cloud of pollution.

In that time governments in all three countries have done an awful lot of talking about what is euphemistically known as the "haze". Asean, the regional grouping, got involved with the Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution back in 2002, a document now ratified by all of Asean’s ten members, except Indonesia. But none of the talk appears to have had much impact on the ground.

As I write this, Kuala Lumpur's Twin Towers, symbol of Malaysian modernity and development, are all but invisible. The only buildings that I can see are the ones immediately next door. The rest of the city, if I can make it out at all, is an eerie, landscape of shadows.

Schools in Kuala Lumpur and surrounding Selangor state have been closed and children advised to stay indoors; even there though, the smoke seeps through window and door frames and into air-conditioned rooms. Some KL-residents have started putting on face masks before they go out in a possibly futile attempt to protect themselves – the smoke still stings the eyes, irritates the nose and sticks at the back of the throat.

The Air Pollutants Index, Malaysia's official measurement of air quality, has been climbing since Friday when a southeasterly wind began blowing the smoke cloud over the peninsular rather than Singapore which bore the brunt of the smog last week.

Source From Al Jazeera

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