Letter to the Editor 5 March 2019
Being close to the equator, the ‘perpetual summer’ in Malaysia is nothing new. In the past few weeks however, the heat of the tropical climate has been amplified - sending many Malaysians (who can afford it) reaching for their air conditioning remote control to cool themselves down. The El Niño cycle, the warm phase of the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) has arrived yet again and is forecasted to remain until May. And although the Meteorological Department of Malaysia (MET) stated it would not be as intense as the ones in 2016 (highest in Alor Setar, Kedah and Chuping, Perlis at 38.5°C) and 1998 (highest in Chuping, Perlis at 40.1°C), the daily maximum temperature between 36°C and 38°C felt in previous week is close enough.
Beyond the daily discomfort caused by the sweltering heat, the reduced rainfall during this season is having dire implications on our water supply - whether it is for domestic use, commercial, manufacturing and for food production. The extreme heat and drought will also cause higher incidences of bushfires, which not only increases the localised temperature but also pollutes the air with smoke particles (i.e. haze); bringing about a range of health issues, from temporary conditions such as itchy or burning eyes, throat irritation or runny nose; to aggravating existing respiratory illnesses such as bronchitis and asthma.Read more