1. Airport closure only when horizontal visibility below 400m
  2. Haze has not yet caused a major impact on economy
  3. Hotspot activities in Sumatra and Kalimantan are expected to persist
  4. Hong Kong tourism falls 40% as protests continue
  5. China grants tariff exemptions to 16 types of US goods ahead of trade talks
  6. Government to develop more smart city residential projects

Airport closure only when horizontal visibility below 400m
Malaysian Airports Holdings Berhad (MAHB) said it would enforce low visibility operating procedures at airports only when the horizontal visibility drops below 400 metres. At 2pm today, the visibility was recorded at 2,000 metres. “This visibility is recorded by a piece of meteorology equipment placed at each end of the runway, which measures horizontal visibility, which the aviation world terms as runway visual range (RVR). “The airport authority may decide to suspend the airside operations on the advice of Air Traffic Control (if horizontal visibility is below 400 metres),” a MAHB spokesperson told Bernama News Agency.

Meanwhile, an analyst said the haze has not caused any major impact on the economy. Head of Research at Inter-Pacific Securities, Pong Teng Siew said however, the tourism sector would be most affected if the current condition persists in the short to medium term. The Department of Environment’s Air Pollutant Index (API) showed that air in parts of the country was heavily polluted with readings in most parts of the Klang Valley reaching the “unhealthy” range (101 to 200).

The ASEAN Specialised Meteorological Centre warned that the hotspot activities in Sumatra and Kalimantan are expected to persist, and haze from the hotspots may continue to affect parts of Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore and Sarawak in the next few days. The centre, in its statement posted on its website, said that the weather over the southern ASEAN region remained generally dry except for isolated showers over Malaysia and Brunei. Persistent hotspots emitting moderate to dense smoke haze continued to be detected in the central and southern parts of Sumatra in Indonesia.

Hong Kong tourism falls 40% as protests continue
The number of tourists visiting Hong Kong tumbled in August due to anti-government protests, in a sign of the mounting economic cost of the unrest. Hong Kong Financial Secretary, Paul Chan said visitor numbers fell almost 40% from last year. That marked a sharp deepening of the 5% year-on-year decline in July, he said. Chan said in some areas, hotel occupancy rates in August fell by more than half, and house prices sank by as much as 70%. “The retail and even the catering industry are similar. The most worrying thing is that the road ahead does not seem to be easy to get better,” he said. Last year, Hong Kong was one of the world’s most visited cities, with 30 million tourists. Clashes between police and activists have become increasingly violent, with police using tear gas and protesters storming parliament. The unrest has dealt a blow to the territory’s economy, specifically its tourism and retail sectors. In August, protesters paralysed the airport for several days and hundreds of flights had to be cancelled.

China grants tariff exemptions to 16 types of US goods ahead of trade talks
China has unveiled a list of 16 types of products that will be exempt from the first round of additional tariffs on US imports as the two sides prepare for their latest trade talks. The exemption will take effect on Tuesday and remain in place until September 16, 2020, the Customs Tariff Commission of the State Council said in a statement. A number of medicines and insecticides are included on the list, while some other products will be eligible for refunds on tariffs already paid, it said.

Government to develop more smart city residential projects
Malaysia will develop more smart city residential projects under the 12th Malaysia Plan, in a bid to make Kuala Lumpur and other cities in the country to be at par with smart cities in developed nations. Housing and Local Government minister Zuraida Kamaruddin said, “In the next five years we should be able to achieve at least 70 to 75 per cent (smart city index) from the current 52.83 per cent.” A smart city is a city that incorporates information and communication technologies to enhance the quality and performance of urban services, including energy, transportation and utilities, in order to reduce resource consumption, wastage and overall costs. This year’s IESE Cities in Motion Index (CIMI) saw London topped the list as the world’s smartest city with a score of 100 per cent followed by New York in second place with a score of 94.63 per cent while Kuala Lumpur stood at 100th with 52.83 per cent. The IESE Cities in Motion Index published by IESE Business School of the University of Navarra, Spain aims to evaluate cities in relation to the nine key dimensions including human capital, social cohesion, the economy, governance, among others.

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