GEORGE TOWN: Penang, choking from the haze that has enveloped the northern region in the past few days, has offered to help neighbouring Sumatra fight the peat fires that is causing the pollution. State executive councillor in charge of the environment, Phee Boon Poh, said there were already volunteers from members of the emergency response teams as well as civil society groups. The air pollutant index (API) has been hovering at 118 to 168 – slightly below the “very unhealthy” level despite a short spell of rain. Indonesia has yet to respond to the offer. Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had earlier made a similar offer, saying that Malaysia had special aircraft that could spray water over the fires. Satellite pictures show most of the fires are in the Riau province in Sumatra, where there are many oil palm and rubber plantations. Phee said the advisory to don face masks, reduce time spent outdoors and for those with respiratory problems to take extra precautions is still in effect. Meanwhile, Langkawi Business Association deputy chairman Datuk Issac Alexander urged Asean to utilise diplomatic channels to deal with the problem. He said the haze would drive visitors away from the island resort that relies on tourism.