Monday, 1 July 2013

Lessons from the Haze

Learn the Lesson that Haze Taught


In every crisis, there are opportunities. Where there is a human community, a part of the population will turn opportunists to benefit themselves. Then there will be another portion of the community who will go beyond their self to help the others.  As the saying goes, "患难见真情" - a crisis brings out the best and worst out of people, merchants and governments.

Our little haze debacle is a speck as a magnitude compared to the Japanese Occupation that we once suffered merely a few decades ago. Back then, there were radical differences with how the world operated but the dynamics of people have never changed. There were people who turned translators for the enemies for survival, including our notable "Father of Modern Singapore",  there were merchants who enriched themselves with economic opportunities and unsung heroes who helped feed, defend and protect their loved ones and even strangers for the bigger hearts.

A little haze this time displayed clearly the capabilities of our government, their heart for the people. It showed us who were the online lackeys who defended the inadequacies of the government blindfolded and the ones who ground their axes to attack the government with their agenda while a small group of Singaporeans stood out like a breath of fresh air in the smog to help their people with their own initiatives. The rest of the population remained like sitting ducks waiting for the government to issue emergency status, distribute masks and my favourite of all, to grant public holidays - if that makes sense. I couldn't help wonder if the dwellers of Singapore asked their colonial masters for public holidays back in 1942. 

read more

Three clear lessons from hazy days

When students return to schools after the June break next week, they will have to deal with the smothering haze. And as most schools do not have air-conditioned classrooms, I wonder how the teachers are going to conduct their classes.

But as "teachable moments" go, the smog holds valuable real-life lessons for students. There are at least three. First, how do we deal with a problem caused by a neighbour?

Put simply, the haze is air pollution from the illegal burning of forests and plantations. While the burning takes place outside Singapore, we feel the effects because of our close proximity to Indonesia.

read more

What the haze and PSI can teach us about life
People queue up for free N95 masks at a distribution centre in Singapore June 23, 2013. One million N95 masks will be given to the poorest 200,000 households for free by the government starting from Sunday, according to authorities. The "haze" caused by fires in Riau province on Indonesia's Sumatra island has shrouded neighbouring Singapore but air quality in the city state improved over the weekend after reaching hazardous levels. REUTERS/Edgar Su (SINGAPORE - Tags: ENVIRONMENT HEALTH)
Reuters/REUTERS - People queue up for free N95 masks at a distribution centre in Singapore June 23, 2013. One million N95 masks will be given to the poorest 200,000 households for free by the government starting from Sunday, according to authorities. The "haze" caused by fires in Riau province on Indonesia's Sumatra island has shrouded neighbouring Singapore but air quality in the city state improved over the weekend after reaching hazardous levels. REUTERS/Edgar Su

1. Periodically think about one area of your life that affects you tangibly, e.g. your relationship with your children.

2. Focus on cultivating just one simple habit every month, e.g. establish some “no nagging” time every day (maybe during dinner) where you absolutely do not nag at your children.

3. Regularly reflect on how you’re progressing in developing that one habit. You could spend just two minutes each day thinking about what you did well and what you didn't do well with regard to that habit. 

read more

Seeing Through the Haze

On our part as individuals, the experience has provided us with an opportunity to evaluate our personal levels of preparedness for ‘unpredictable’ events outside of the day-to-day inconveniences. And from the tweets and Facebook sharings I’ve seen, it has also led to a greater awareness of the frailty of our environment — such as how seemingly benign, ‘annual’ events can escalate in severity beyond what we’ve experienced or expected at a turn of the head — to something as small as concern for that regular stray cat across the street.

Personally, it has given me a new perspective to appreciate our (though sometimes bipolar  — swinging from sweltering to a thoroughly drenching downpour — but otherwise) peaceful climate, and the beauty of a simple sunrise/sunset that we’ve taken for granted for decades.

Meanwhile, let’s not be complacent — the good weather over the weekend and this morning are not public announcements of the haze’s passing; take the necessary precautions based on your own health needs and prevailing conditions. And if uncertain, get medical advice and/or see a doctor.

read more

What the haze has taught us – a new Singapore taking shape

The haze came and went in just five short days but the environmental hazard has brought about an important lesson for Singaporeans.

Of course, the usual grimacing and complaining went on – how the government didn’t came out stronger to protest against the haze to the Indonesians like the Malaysians did and why they didn’t stop the construction workers from carrying on working even though the PSI climbed to 300 and more.

I find that Singaporeans are more vocal nowadays especially with the connecting power  of the internet viz-a-viz facebook and other social political sites. 

read more

Clarity needed on companies behind the haze
dumai haze

Market vendors in Dumai wear masks to protect themselves from air pollution caused by the forest fires in Sumatra. The forest fires continue to cause record-breaking air pollution in Singapore and Malaysia. Image: Greenpeace

Singapore and Malaysia has sought clarification from Indonesia on statements made by officials on the involvement of Singapore- and Malaysia-linked companies in the illegal land clearing practices in Indonesia, which is causing the region’s worst haze outbreak in history.

Both countries have asked Indonesia for evidence to support the claims of the companies’ involvement.
The Singapore companies that were previously reported to own land where hotspots were located included Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), a Sinar Mas unit, and Asia Pacific Resources International Limited (APRIL).

read more

Greenpeace asks Indonesia to carry out forest moratorium

Greenpeace Indonesia has asked the government to firmly carry out its commitment of forest moratorium because thousands of hectares of premier and secondary forests in Indonesia do not have legal protection. 

“The Government of Indonesia has a commitment to keep the forest, but the big question is whether the commitment is put into effect or not,” Greenpeace Indonesia Forest Campaigner Yuyun Indradi said here on Sunday.

He noted that based on Greenpeace International`s analysis of the government`s recent revision of its forest moratorium map (PIPIB), more than 10 million hectares of premier forests and around 32 million hectares of secondary forests in Indonesia still do not have any legal protection. 

read more

Haze #sghaze


– Breakfast Network: Inconvenient truths – about Singapore
– The Gigamole Diaries: So u think you are safe from the haze indoors? Think again
– Bluta Blog: Tackling the Haze at Home
– Reflections on Change: PSIndex - Facts, Opinions and Dangerous Misperceptions
– Thoughts of a Cynical Investor : Haze: Is this allegation true?
– The Void Decker: A hazy tale of PSI and two ministers
– Owl Cove: Singaporeans Are Not Dumb
– Eat Full Too Free: Hazy Reflections
– The Side Parting: Haze Gets In Your Eyes
– PoachedMag: The Mask Reveals The Ugly Singaporean
– Prata Politics: Lies, Rumours and FUD in the Internet
– Sgpolitics.net: Spore govt needs to beef up its environmental contingency planning
– Singapore Social and Political Thoughts: MOH Sitting on Millions of N95 Masks
– DKSG: Singapore Woman Hail Reaction Remix
– The Diplomat: Singapore Haze: Discontent Rises


read more