Another haze season will add fuel to fire in Malaysia’s recovery from Covid-19

To coincide with World Environment Day, Lithuanian Artist Ernest Zacharevic reveals ‘Transboundary Haze’, a new artwork in Kuala Lumpur launching a collaboration with Greenpeace, Splash and Burn and filmmakers Studiobirthplace. The project is the first in a series of creative intervention planned throughout the year, urging those in authority to hold polluters accountable for clean air as a basic human right.

Speaking on the subject Ernest explains; “living in Malaysia, the transboundary haze has become a natural part of life. It’s a regular occurrence for many and from what I can see, it seems like people are just trying to learn to live with it rather than finding ways to prevent or solve it.”

The complexity of the issue and its dire consequences have resulted in many misconceptions, with blame often passed to neighbouring countries Singapore and Indonesia. Leading the project, Greenpeace Malaysia campaigner Heng Kiah Chun emphasised that there are solutions within reach, but it requires strong actions taken by the government.

Deforestation and transboundary haze pollution happened in the region for years. This is why it is important that haze pollution and forest protection be part of the main agenda in the upcoming general election,” he said. “We must consider the harm increased air pollution will bring when we are still grappling with the Covid-19 pandemic and the economic devastation it has brought. The government should enhance air quality governance, strengthen the recognition of environmental rights – that having a clean, healthy and sustainable environment is a human right , as has recently been done by the United Nations Human Rights Council.”

In 2020, the Malaysian government shelved the tabling of the Transboundary Haze Pollution Act. Civil society organisations were calling to enact a domestic Transboundary Haze Pollution Act due to the ineffectiveness of diplomatic efforts to curb the toxic haze. According to the Meteorological Department (MetMalaysia), a rise in temperature along with the haze phenomenon is expected to hit the country from July to September this year. [1]

Additionally, during the last hard hitting haze in 2019, the Malaysian Health Ministry stated that haze led to a rapid rise in asthma (15.8% increase) and conjunctivitis cases (24.9% increase) nationwide. [2]

Data on haze/non-haze episodes and Healthcare Utilisation (HU) retrieved from the Department of Environment and Ministry of Health Malaysia for four consecutive years (2012–2015) showed the percentage of haze episodes recorded in all stations was higher (67%) as compared to non-haze (33%) episodes. Findings from this study indicated that haze episodes incurred a significant healthcare burden due to an increase in HU. [3]

“We believe art can help the general public to understand and relate to the issue on a more personal level. We hope it can start the conversation and encourage policymakers to address the issues meaningfully. We should not have to wait for another haze season to look for solutions,” – Ernest Zacharevic

Notes to Editor

  1. aze-expected-from-july-till-september/2058361

The Artist | Ernest Zacharevic |@ernestzacharevic |
Ernest “ZACH” Zacharevic is a Lithuanian-born artist combining fine art techniques with a passion for creating art outdoors. Experimentation lies at the heart of Ernest’s style, with the only constant being the dedication to his ever-changing concepts. With ideas leading the way, he removes the restriction of artistic boundaries, moving freely between the disciplines of oil painting, stencil and spray, installation and sculpture; producing dynamic compositions both inside and outside of the gallery space. Ernests primary interest is in the relationship between art and the urban landscape, with concepts often evolving as part of a spontaneous response to the immediate environment, the community and culture.

Collaborator | Greenpeace | @greenpeacemy |
Greenpeace is a movement of people who are passionate about defending the natural world from destruction. Our vision is a greener, healthier and more peaceful planet, one that can sustain life for generations to come. We are independent. We don’t accept any funding from governments, corporations or political parties – our work is funded by ordinary people. That means we are free to confront governments and corporations responsible for the destruction of the natural world and push for real change. We do this by investigating, documenting and exposing the causes of environmental destruction. We work to bring about change by lobbying, consumer pressure and mobilising members of the general public. And we take peaceful direct action to protect our Earth and promote solutions for a green and peaceful future. Our mission is to promote radical changes and new solutions to the ways we live on this planet so that we can all call it home for generations to come.

Collaborator | Splash and Burn | @splashandburn |
Splash and Burn is an award winning, Artist led initiative using creativity to encourage a wider conversation on conflict sustainable Palm Oil. Through art, projects explore the impacts on forests, communities and the dwindling wildlife of South East Asia. Tackling issues such as the transboundary haze, deforestation as well as human and animal displacement; murals/sculptures emerge throughout Sumatra’s vast natural landscape for single interventions, short films and actions. The project now in its 6th year works with local partners to develop creative awareness campaigns and projects to encourage visibility and understanding of the issue and its complexity.

Splash and Burn is an ongoing independent initiative curated by Ernest Zacharevic and coordinated by Charlotte Pyatt and collaborates with a wide network of local and international NGO’s

Collaborator | Studiobirthplace | @studiobirthplace |
We are a group of storytellers, risk-takers, go-getters but most of all, we are a team of passionate people who love this planet and want to see it thrive. Our collective of creative minds strives for change through innovative and daring ideas and never shies away from a challenge.