Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Tackling the transboundary haze pollution

Updated 28 Jun 2013: RI is not afraid of Malaysia or Singapore, says President
Task force on forest fires: President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (center) holds an assault rifle when he inspects the task force to be deployed to help extinguish forest fires in Riau at Halim Perdanakusumah airbase in Jakarta on Tuesday.  (JP/Jerry Adiguna)
Task force on forest fires: President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono holds an assault rifle when he inspects the task force to be deployed to help extinguish forest fires in Riau at Halim Perdanakusumah airbase in Jakarta on Tuesday

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has said he is not afraid of Malaysia or Singapore during a press conference at Halim Perdanakusuma airport in East Jakarta on Wednesday.

The President said that he had initially monitored conversations in the social media after he apologized to the Malaysian and Singaporean governments for the haze from forest fires in Riau. He later noticed that there had been rampant misconception among people who thought the Indonesian government was afraid of its Malaysian and Singaporean counterparts.

“There is no any sovereign state that should be afraid of other countries,” said Yudhoyono as quoted by Kompas.com.

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President Yudhoyono hopes neighbors not to send wrong signals


President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said neighboring countries should not give wrong signals over land and forest fires that had created haze

The Head of State was referring to reports and opinions in Singapore and Malaysia which said that since 1997 Indonesia had been sending pollution to Singapore. "I follow international media (reports) in the morning, afternoon and night. In my opinion many reports which I always observed in Singapore were exaggerated so that they smeared the image of Indonesia in world`s eyes," President Yudhoyono said.

"I read and followed reports which gave the impression that since 1997 Indonesia had been polluting the Singapore air. I think this is exaggerating. I am convinced that Singapore and Indonesia mutually benefit from their business and economic cooperation. Of course it hurts us if it leaves the impression that Indonesia only poses problems to its neighbors, and I once again regret such intensive reports ," Yudhoyono said.

He said that the Indonesian government exerted its full efforts to put out the land and forest fires which created smokes. "I believe that we have heart and good cooperation and with that reason our relations with whatever sides will be good. I believe this theory and since I became president in the past nine years. This is for the first time I make a statement like this," he said.


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INDONESIAN PRESIDENT: WE ARE NOT AFRAID OF MALAYSIA AND SINGAPORE
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Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono yesterday defended his apology for the haze to Singapore and Malaysia, following criticisms that he had dragged down national pride.

“The fact is the haze was from Indonesia, so we take responsibility and saying sorry in that context, to me, is not excessive,” he said during a press conference at Halim Perdanakusuma airport in East Jakarta. “At the same time, I said that what was happening was not intentional and Indonesia had no intention to trouble its neighbours.”

Quoting conversations in social media, he said that, after after his apology, there have been misconceptions among people that the Indonesian government is afraid of its counterparts in both Singapore and Malaysia.

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Indonesia's Yudhoyono to follow up on haze apology

During an official ceremony dispatching the team Yudhoyono called on the 2,300 members of the task force to do a "good job" in overcoming the haze

Just one day after President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono apologised to irritated neighbours Singapore and Malaysia for the uncontrollable forest fires in Riau, he personally checked the preparation of a special task force to accelerate the efforts against the severe haze at Halim Perdanakusuma Air Force base in East Jakarta on Tuesday.

On Monday the President scolded his top aides for making confrontational remarks against the two neighbours after they strongly complained that the Indonesian government did little to stop the haze, which has blanketed Singapore and Kuala Lumpur for several days. Apparently, nature was at least helpful on Tuesday evening when it brought rain in Riau.

The task force consists of members of the Indonesian Military (TNI), the National Police, the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) as well as Health Ministry, social and forestry affairs officials.

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ASEAN leaders must show the will to tackle haze


A thick haze has descended over the debate about just how to tackle the acrid smoke heading our way from Sumatra. It casts a pall on the readiness of Asean countries to come together to tackle pressing environmental challenges.

With almost childlike innocence, Indonesian minister Agung Laksono has chided Singaporeans for "behaving like a child, making all this noise" about the choking haze.

To add fuel to fire, he suggested that Singaporeans should instead be thankful to Indonesia for the clean air they enjoyed most of the time. Rather than make a fuss over the haze, they should offer dollops of cash to clean up the pollution, he suggested.

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The ideal approach to mitigate transboundary haze pollution

On June 20, haze pollution in Singapore surpassed all the country’s highest levels, recorded since 1997. The cause of the pollution is forest fires in Riau that have a transboundary impact.

There are at least two factors causing this problem. First are the actions of several oil palm plantation companies that use a slash-and-burn method to clear land for their plantations. This method is not sustainable as it does not rehabilitate the negative impacts on the environment.

Second is the wind that carries the haze to Singapore and Malaysia. Human beings cause the first factor, while the second factor is caused by nature. The difference between these two factors could have implications for resolving the matter, including responsibility and liability


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Can Indonesia be held responsible for breach of international law?

The effects of transboundary haze pollution have been acutely felt in Singapore and Malaysia over the past week. The Pollution Standard Index (PSI) hit an all-time high at 401 on 21 June at 12pm in Singapore. Singaporeans and Malaysians are understandably upset by the inconvenience and the public health threat posed by the haze.

Amidst accusations and finger-pointing, one may be inclined to ask: Can Indonesia be held responsible forbreach of international law?

Probably not. Indonesia has not ratified the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution. As a result, it cannot be held for any breach of the obligations under the Agreement.

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Transboundary Haze Pollution: Corruption at the root of the problem

Transboundary haze pollution caused by fires from Indonesian forests is one annual problem this region of Southeast Asia can do without. At the root of the problem lies a complicated web of bureaucracy, greed and corruption, the depth and breadth of which observers can only speculate at the moment.

Corruption is a major factor that led to the haze. Together with greed, the two form a deadly mix. The Straits Times features an article written by Sara Schonhardt, "How corruption is fuelling the haze" (25 June 2013), which originally appeared on Eco-Business.com

Singapore has been unequivocal in articulating its condemnation of the "culprits involved in the illegal burning". Likewise, the Singapore government seems to be aware of corruption on the ground as well, as implied by Vivian Balakrishnan's suggestion that the Indonesian government has "strict laws against indiscriminate burning", but the issue was "enforcement at a local level". However, Singapore appears to have been rather diplomatic about governmental corruption at the international level.

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Tackling a burning issue

Is Indonesia breaking any international law? - Causing damage to your neighbour’s territory via activity on your own is clearly against customary international law. The Stockholm Declara­tion has this to say: “States have, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations and the principles of international law, the sovereign right to exploit their own resources pursuant to their own environmental policies, and the responsibility to ensure that activities within their jurisdiction or control do not cause damage to the environment of other States or of areas beyond the limits of national jurisdiction.” So, Indonesia is in breach of international custom; the thing is, what can we do about it? We can try to bring them to the ICJ but the reality is, due to the voluntary nature of international law, if they don’t want to go, we can’t force them to go.

What about Asean? - There is the Asean Transboundary Haze Pollution Agreement (ATHPA), but there are two problems with this law.

Firstly, Indonesia has not ratified it, therefore they are not legally bound by it. They have however signed it, and according to the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, there is a general obligation for them not to do anything that goes against the principles and objectives of the treaty. Perhaps they can be reminded of this. But even if they do ratify the ATHPA, the second problem is that in its current form it does not provide for any process to determine liability and compensation.

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Singapore Haze: Discontent Rises
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Although a bustling, densely populated city-state, Singapore has nonetheless managed to maintain a reputation for having relatively clean air. Once a year, though, the island is engulfed in smog and haze, a result of forest fires caused by slash-and-burn tactics employed by plantations in Indonesia.

For more than a decade now Singaporeans have endured the consequences of unethical plantations choosing the easy way out in clearing their land. Still, usually people just cough and scratch their noses, grumble a little and continue on their way.

Not this year, though, as the Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) climbs higher than ever before. At one point it hit 401, classified by the National Environment Agency (NEA) as “very hazardous”. It’s all anyone can talk about. The Twitter hashtag “#SGHaze” is constantly trending in Singapore, and social media feeds are clogged with screencaps, comments and postings from those obsessively monitoring the PSI figures. The severity of this year’s haze problem has brought to the surface a plethora of worries

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MFA seeks answers from Jakarta to conflicting views on whether Singapore firms caused haze

THE Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) yesterday conveyed a diplomatic note to Indonesia's ambassador here on the haze issue, raising questions and concerns about the alleged involvement of Singapore-linked companies in the Sumatra fires

Permanent Secretary (Foreign Affairs) Mr Chee Wee Kiong met with H.E. Andri Hadi, Ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia to Singapore this afternoon. Mr Chee called for the meeting to convey a diplomatic note:
(i) seeking clarification on statements by Indonesian Ministers and officials on the issue of Singapore-linked companies said to be involved in illegal land clearing practices in Indonesia; and
(ii) asking Indonesia to assist by handing over relevant evidence.

Mr Chee noted that there had been contradictory statements made by Indonesian Ministers and officials on whether Singapore-linked companies were engaged in illegal land clearing practices.

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Singapore threatens legal action against local firms blamed for smog from Sumatra 

Singapore said yesterday that it would pursue local firms found to be involved in starting forest fires in Sumatra, Indonesia, as Greenpeace said the blazes were on palm oil plantations owned by Indonesian, Malaysian and Singaporean companies.

Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam said Singapore would investigate possible legal action against domestic companies responsible for the fires.

"I have asked the attorney general to consider what is it that we can do in Singapore if such companies can be proved to have contributed in some way [to the fires] ... We will do everything we can do," he said. 

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Singapore exploring action against haze culprits


While the primary ability to act lies with the Indonesians, the Singapore Attorney-General is investigating what can be done against firms involved in causing the haze, Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam said on Saturday.

"We will offer no succour or refuge if the actions of the companies have been deemed illegal in Indonesia and impacted on Singapore," he said during a briefing to reporters.

The stern warning came a day after the Indonesian government named some firms in Riau province involved in the blazes, and which have Singapore links.

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Indonesia Humbles Itself Before Singapore, Malaysia, Says Sorry For The Smoke Haze Caused By Raging Forest Fires
Indonesia Humbles Itself Before Singapore, Malaysia, Says Sorry For The Smoke Haze Caused By Raging Forest Fires
Indonesia Humbles Itself Before Singapore, Malaysia, Says Sorry For The Smoke Haze Caused By Raging Forest Fires

Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has done what most global leaders today find hard to do - to humble himself and his nation before their neighbors for a clear and visible wrongdoing. On Monday, Mr Yudhoyono formally apologised for the smoke haze that is now choking Singapore and Malaysia. 

The alleged companies involved are PT Langgam Inti Hibrida, PT Bumi Reksa Nusa Sejati, PT Tunggal Mitra Plantation, PT Udaya Loh Denawi, PT Adei Plantation, PT Jatim Jaya Perkasa, PT Multi Gambut Industri, and PT Mustika Agro Lestari.

Under Indonesian environment law, causing illegal forest fires face a penalty of 10-year maximum imprisonment as well as fines of up to US$504,000.

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Indonesian Leader Apologizes for Fires


"I, as the president, apologize and seek the understanding of our brothers and sisters in Singapore and Malaysia," Mr. Yudhoyono told a news conference. "Indonesia had no intention to cause this."

The Indonesian leader said dry weather conditions had worsened the problem, and said he thought the local government in Riau, the province where most of the fires are blazing, was late in anticipating their impact.

"But there's no need to blame each other," he said. Indonesians, Mr. Yudhoyono said, should "focus on tackling these fires immediately."

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Indonesia formally apologizes for smoky haze
Worst pollution levels: Protesters hold banners and placards during a protest against Indonesian forest fires, in downtown Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Monday. Malaysian authorities declared a state of emergency Sunday in a southern district where a smoky haze blamed on Indonesian forest fires has triggered one of the country's worst pollution levels in years. (AP/Lai Seng Sin)
Worst pollution levels: Protesters hold banners and placards during a protest against Indonesian forest fires, in downtown Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Monday. Malaysian authorities declared a state of emergency Sunday in a southern district where a smoky haze blamed on Indonesian forest fires has triggered one of the country's worst pollution levels in years. (AP/Lai Seng Sin)

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono apologized Monday to Singapore and Malaysia for record-setting pollution caused by forest fires in his country.

"For what is happening, as the president, I apologize to our brothers in Singapore and Malaysia," Yudhoyono said. He asked for their understanding and said Indonesia is working hard to fight the fires, which are often set by farmers to clear fields.

Jakarta dispatched planes and helicopters last week to battle the blazes in peat swamp forests as well as plantations in Riau province on Sumatra island, where the smoke easily drifts across the sea to the two neighboring countries

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Indonesia formally apologizes for smoky haze
<p> A woman covers herself with a face mask as she walks on a street in downtown Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Monday, June 24, 2013. Malaysian authorities declared a state of emergency Sunday in a southern district where a smoky haze blamed on Indonesian forest fires has triggered one of the country's worst pollution levels in years. (AP Photo/Lai Seng Sin)

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono apologized Monday to Singapore and Malaysia for record-setting pollution caused by forest fires in his country.

Speaking at a news conference after a Cabinet meeting to discuss the issue, Yudhoyono said he has ordered an investigation of the fires.

"There should be a thorough investigation. In my analysis, there are both natural and human factors," he said, adding that the wind direction has caused the smoke to concentrate in Singapore and Malaysia. 

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Singapore and Malaysia accused of trying to discredit Indonesia over the haze

An Indonesian minister has said Singapore and Malaysia should “know themselves” over the haze, accusing both of trying to discredit Indonesia over the issue.

“Let me remind our friends from Malaysia, Singapore, don’t just because of the haze tell stories to the world,” said Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Jero Wacik when opening a meeting of senior energy officials from Asean countries in Nusa Dua, Bali, yesterday.

“It’s called sharing, you go through good times together, don’t make noise to the world when things go bad. It’s just like husband and wife, don’t take your quarrels outside,” he added. 

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M'sia wants Indonesia to ratify transboundary haze agreement

Malaysia wants Indonesia to ratify the ASEAN agreement on transboundary haze pollution.

Speaking after taking his oath of office in the first session of parliament, Environment Minister G Palanivel urged Indonesian authorities to enforce strict laws against the Malaysian companies if they are found to be culprits behind the haze.

Air quality in many parts of Malaysia, including the most densely-populated Klang valley, has deteriorated, forcing hundreds of schools to shut on Monday. 

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Blame game can't solve Southeast Asia's haze crisis

The more than 20-year-old cross-boundary haze malady has hit Singapore again, but this time the situation is much worse, with pollution levels breaking several records.

With the crisis, the blame game is under way again. While Singapore has urged Indonesia to take tougher action against illegal forest burning, Indonesia has said Singaporean and Malaysian palm oil companies bear ultimate responsibility.

However, playing the blame game never works; all stakeholders must co-operate to solve the crisis. 


Taming Backwater Blazes Isn’t Easy in Democratic Indonesia

Smoke billows from forest fire Saturday in Pekanbaru, in Indonesia’s Riau province

As Singaporeans and Malaysians cough through another day of haze, calls for less slash-and-burn and more law-and-order in Indonesia are as predictable as the annual spread of the smoke from the south.

If Indonesia had better rules and followed them, goes the thinking, then the problem would be resolved.

“The truth, sadly, is that rogue firms thrive in permissive regimes where commercial interests overshadow environmental concerns,” said an editorial the Straits Times, the city-state‘s flagship newspaper. “That situation can be changed only by an act of political will and faithful implementation of laws with sufficient bite.”

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How corruption is fuelling Singapore's haze

Raging fires across Sumatra has caused the worst haze in history to hit Singapore, with the three-hour Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) climbing to 401 on Friday. Image: NASA

Record-high air pollution hit Singapore and Malaysia this week, as winds blew smoke northward from forest fires raging in Sumatra, western Indonesia. Demands from the city-state that Indonesia take tougher action prompted retorts by officials who said Singapore was ‘behaving like children’ and sought to shift blame to companies in Singapore and Malaysia

But the barb trading over the haze, an annual annoyance that often strains relations between Singapore and Indonesia, overlooks one of the major causes of the burning – corruption

Observers here say rent-seeking local leaders and corporations are taking advantage of lax law enforcement and murky regulations to continue clearing forests as an increasingly rapid rate

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Indonesia arrests 8 in fires causing choking haze
A motorist wears mask to protect his respiration from smoke caused by forest fire in Pekanbaru, Indonesia.


Indonesian authorities have arrested eight farmers for setting illegal fires on Sumatra island to clear land after numerous blazes created a thick haze choking parts of Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia, police said on Tuesday.

The farmers were arrested on Monday and Tuesday after being caught “red-handed”, said local police spokesman Lt. Col. Hermansyah. He did not say whether they were employed by some companies that have been accused of deliberately starting the fires.

About 1,100 residents were forced to flee Rantau Bais and Bangko Pusako villages in Riau province on Tuesday as acrid smoke from nearby burning peat swamps and palm oil plantations made breathing difficult, Mr. Hermansyah said.

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Indonesia arrests farmers for illegal fires
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A man walks past a bushfire in Labersa, Riau province, Indonesia. Photo: AP

Indonesian police on Monday arrested two farmers for illegally starting fires to clear land in Sumatra, the first detentions linked to blazes that have blanketed neighbouring Singapore and Malaysia with thick smog for days.

Police said the two farmers were not linked to any of the eight companies the government suspects are responsible for Southeast Asia’s worst air pollution crisis in years.

The parent companies of those firms included Malaysia-listed Sime Darby, which has denied wrongdoing.

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Bring the culprits to book

Indonesia told to enforce laws on Malaysian firms based there if they are found guilty of open burning

The ongoing haze has prompted Malaysia and Singapore to push for the 15th sub-regional ministerial steering committee meeting on transboundary haze pollution to be brought forward from Aug 20 to next week.

The Malaysian government has also called on Indonesia to enforce laws on Malaysian companies based there if they were found guilty of open burning.

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Singapore smog casts diplomatic cloud 

What started out as a seemingly minor worry over air pollution has taken on a dramatic twist and spiralled into escalating diplomatic tension between Singapore and Indonesia.

Singapore is facing its worst pollution crisis in more than a decade, after forest fires in Indonesia caused air quality in the neighbouring city - usually relatively pollutant-free - to plunge into the hazardous zone, reaching readings of up to 400 on the "Pollutant Standards Index" on Friday afternoon. According to the National Environmental Agency, air becomes "very unhealthy" when it hits the 200 mark and is "hazardous" at 300.

Indonesia has refused to apologise for the haze crisis, insisting instead its government would do everything it could to tackle the problem. "The Singaporean government must be aware that we have done all we can to tackle this haze problem," Foreign Affairs Minister Marty Natalegawa said late on Friday. "Indonesia has been dealing with the haze for years and improvements have been made."

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Palm oil companies behind Singapore smog: Greenpeace


Fires on Indonesia’s Sumatra, which have cloaked Singapore in record-breaking smog, are raging on palm oil plantations owned by Indonesian, Malaysian and Singaporean companies, environmental activist group Greenpeace International said Saturday 

“NASA hotspot data in Sumatra over the past 10 days (11-21 June) has revealed hundreds of fire hotspots in palm oil concessions that are owned by Indonesian, Malaysian and Singaporean companies,” the group said in a statement received by AFP.

Singapore’s smog index hit the critical 400 level on Friday, making it potentially life-threatening to the ill and elderly, a government monitoring site said. On Saturday morning, the reading was at 323, still in the “hazardous” zone. 

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Malaysia, Singapore want Asean’s haze committee meeting to be brought forward

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri G. Palanivel will meet his Indonesian counterpart later this week to discuss the haze issue

Malaysia and Singapore are proposing to bring forward the sub-regional ministerial steering committee meeting on transboundary haze pollution to from the scheduled Aug 20-21 dates.

“We are proposing it to be held next week or July 2, said Natural Resource and Environment Minister Datuk Seri G. Palanivel on Monday. “We are awaiting response from the other 3 member countries - Indonesia, Brunei and Thailand. Malaysia has offered to host the meeting in Kuala Lumpur.

Meanwhile, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said Malaysia was expected to convey a strong message to their Indonesian counterparts to find permanent solutions to the end the annual 'man-made' haze problem

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Malaysia Seeks Summit as Hazardous Haze Hangs Over Region

Malaysia called for a meeting of Southeast Asian ministers as early as next week after haze from illegal Indonesian forest fires reached hazardous levels in parts of the region.

“Malaysian laws cannot be applied in Indonesia,” G. Palanivel, Malaysia’s Minister for Natural Resources and Environment, told reporters in Kuala Lumpur today. “It is for them to stop this and take action and not us.”

Malaysia is offering to host a meeting of the sub-regional ministerial steering committee on trans-boundary haze in Kuala Lumpur next week, Palanivel said, adding Singapore was supportive of such a summit. The meeting was originally scheduled for Aug. 20-21. The government is awaiting a response from Indonesia, Thailand and Brunei, he said. Singapore’s National Environment Agency didn’t immediately respond to queries

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SSA appeals to Indonesia to stop the forest fires

The Malacca and Singapore Straits is a strategic gateway in world trade and one of the world's busiest waterways. On any given day, over 140 ships - such very large oil tankers, container ships, bulk carriers and cruise liners, ply through the Straits; not forgetting the smaller crafts like passenger ferries, tugs and barges making frequent cross-Straits voyages in the littoral states of Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia.

During the past week, acrid haze originating from forest fires in Sumatra, Indonesia has blanketed the region, including the southern Straits, southern peninsular Malaysia and the island of Singapore. While smoke haze is a perennial problem for the region during this time of the year, at noon today, the 3-hour Pollutant Standards Index hit an unprecedented high of 401, which is deemed as being hazardous to health. Visibility had also dropped significantly.

The Singapore Shipping Association (SSA) is gravely concerned with the effects of the worsening hazy conditions on the safe navigation of ships through the Straits of Malacca and Singapore

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Malaysia haze takes its toll


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. 

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Malaysian government criticised for haze inaction

Malaysia has declared a state of emergency in two southern districts after air pollution reached dangerous levels, as smoke continues to drift across from illegal forest fires on the Indonesian island of Sumatra.

The haze has also shrouded neighbouring Singapore, but the air quality there has improved after it too reached hazardous levels.

Indonesia has sought to put some of the blame for the environmental crisis on foreign palm oil producers, including at least one company based in Malaysia

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Haze: Johor issues six immediate measures
JB haze

Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin, in his Facebook posting, said the steps were:

- Issuing closure orders on all offices whether government or private and other workplaces including factories, estates, construction sites and quarries.
- Ensure all schools are closed
- Restrict use of private vehicles
- Stop all land clearing and transfer of earth
- Ensure timely updates on the air quality situation (Air Pollutants Index) to the mass media
- Enforce ban on open burning

However, the closure order does not include:
- Shops selling food items and drinks, markets and supermarkets
- Clinic, pharmacies and medicine shops
- Essential services

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KL minister denies weak handling of issue


Malaysia's natural resources and environment minister has denied that the government has been weak in its handling of the haze situation, saying that it has been in constant communication with its Indonesian counterpart behind the scenes.

Datuk Seri G. Palanivel said the government has voiced its concerns to Indonesia, but added that the situation "is not simple".

"It is not true that Malaysia has not been firm in airing our grievances with Indonesia," he said. "Malaysia and Singapore are the most active in pursuing this with Indonesia."

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Disgusted with Indonesia's annual 'gift'


The Indonesian government can put the blame on Malaysian and Singaporean owned oil palm plantation companies operating in Sumatra island for causing the haze but ultimately what is lacking is the strict enforcement of the environmental laws (if any exists at all) on their part

How could it be possible for these companies to carry out their slash and burn activities with such impunity all these years if not for the lackadaisical attitude of the Indonesian government on putting its foot down.

I pity our school children and those elderly and suffering from asthma and other breathing problems. The haze has made their daily lives very difficult and uncomfortable.

2013 Southeast Asian haze


Hotspots on 21 June 2013

The 2013 Southeast Asian haze is affecting several countries in the Southeast Asian region, including Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore, starting in June 2013. On 19 June 2013, NASA’s Terra and Aqua satellites captured images of smoke from illegal wildfires on the Indonesian island of Sumatra blowing east toward southern Malaysia and Singapore, causing thick clouds of haze in the region. As stated by a local Indonesian official, the source of the haze might be a 3,000 hectare peatland in Bengkalis Regency, Riau Province, which was set ablaze by an unknown party on 9 June. As many as 187 hotspots were picked up by satellites on 18 June 2013down to 85 on 20 June 2013. On 23 June 2013, 119 hotspots were detected.

On 24 June 2013, 159 hotspots were detected in Riau, out of a total of 227 detected in Sumatra. An air force officer explained that the low number of hotspots detected on some days was due to heavy cloud cover, which prevented the satellite from detecting some of the hotspots. The Malaysia Department of Environment said that 173 hotspots were detected in Malaysia on 24 June, with 1 in Negeri Sembilan, 1 in Terengganu, 3 in Sabah, and 168 in Sarawak Many of the hotspots are owned by palm oil companies or smallholder farmers who supply palm oil to these companies and use traditional slash-and-burn methods to clear their land for the next planting season.

However, Singapore's Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong, has said that the fires were most likely started by errant companies, instead of slash-and-burn by smallholders. On 25 June 2013, Indonesia's president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono issued a formal apology to Malaysia and Singapore for the hazardous smog.

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Sumatra forest fires double from 64 hotspots to 118 on Saturday
Malaysia Star, 22 Jun 2013
The number of hot spots detected in Sumatra via satellite NOAA-18 on Saturday rose almost two fold to 118 from 64 on Friday.

According to a statement from the Department of Environment (DOE), the Asean Specialised Meteorological Centre (ASMC) in Singapore reported that the haze was becoming thicker from fires in Riau Province, Sumatera Tengah, Indonesia.

It said winds blowing from the southwest had carried haze from Riau to the central and southern part of the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia. Full story
Related:
  1. Singapore gets some relief from haze of choking fumes - CNN.com
  2. MALAYSIA DECLARES EMERGENCY REACHES 16YEAR HIGH - Manila Times
  3. Haze deteriorates in Malaysia, emergency announced - Xinhua 
  4. Malaysia declares emergency as Indonesia smoke pollution thickens - Reuters
  5. Worst of haze shifts from Singapore to Malaysia
  6. Smog May Cost Spore's Economy More than 1997 Pollution Crisis: Analysts
  7. Mighty Indonesia Humbles Itself Before Singapore & Malaysia
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Haze #sghaze


A Singaporean in Australia: Learn the Lesson that Haze Taught
– I On Singapore: Transboundary Haze Pollution: Corruption the root of the problem
– Catch 40 Winks: Something this way comes
– Blogging for Myself: Haze: Getting back to normal
– Breakfast Network: Time for the rest of us to pick up the slack
– 否极泰来 Piji Tailai: PAP Policy for Haze – Good, Bad and Ugly
– Eternal Truths from a Kopi Thiam Uncle: Haze Graphs
– Neurotic Ramblings of a Spore Couple: Response to “Dumb & Dumber Sporeans”
– Musings from the Lion City: Joint Statement
– Andrew Loh: A troubling question
– Jeraldine Phneah: Not all online criticism are intended to politicize the haze
– Furry Brown Dog: Why 1-hour and spot PSI/PM10/PM2.5 readings matter
– The Asian Parent: SARS in Singapore: Is it back?
– BBC: South East Asia haze: What is slash-and-burn?

– Asiaone: Indonesia's Yudhoyono apologises for haze
– Breakfast Network: Not an easy matter handing out masks
– I on Singapore: Transboundary Haze Pollution: Can Indonesia be held responsible?
– sgthinker.wordpress.com: Dumb and Dumber Singaporean Reactions to the Haze
– Property Soul: Can’t afford not having it
– A Juggling Mum: Motivational Mondays – Choosing to be thankful
– A Yummy Slice of Life: 3 Preliminary Lessons from the Great Haze of 2013
– guanyinmiao’s musings: Spore Gov: Damned If It Does, Damned If It Doesn’t
– The Kent Ridge Common: Profiteers are heroes
– Thoughts of a Cynical Investor: Haze: What Raffles would have done
– Zit Seng’s Superwall: Haze Reveals a Short-Sighted Government
– Canvasing Light: Public Simply Ignorant (PSI)
– Blogfather: The worst of the worst isn’t the haze
– Money Smart: MoneySmart Haze Special: How Much Indonesia is Costing You
– Yawningbread: Haze comes, government in tizzy
– Iron Bowl: Reasons for reaction of Singaporeans to the haze
– Reflections on Change: Distributing N95 Masks Public Relations Exercise
– Insights Health Associates : Singapore Haze: How dangerous is PM 2.5?
– Senang Diri: Role of the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) in combatting the haze
– Haus of yuene: Quick update: Clearing the air
– Where Bears Roam Free: Sg should just give the dirty money back to Indonesia
– Ravi Philemon: To stop work is also sometimes rational
– Jentrified Citizen: Why is there no existing crisis plan to manage haze crisis?
– Furry Brown Dog: On foreign standards for air quality reporting
– Jeremy Chen: PSI: Estimating 1-Hour Averages from 3-Hour Averages

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