Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Ministers Using FB To Slam Haze

PSI Levels Soar, Causing Tensions To Boil

As the haze situations reach critical levels on Friday (25 Sept), tensions begin to boil. Singapore has been cloaked in smog from Indonesia’s for about three weeks. Primary, secondary and MOE-run kindergartens were closed on Friday as the PSI levels climbed into hazardous levels. Free masks were also distributed in community-centres.

As PSI levels rise, so did did tempers.

Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam took it to Facebook to question the Indonesian government whom he mentions have “a complete disregard for our people, and their own”.

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Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s Facebook post

The air quality worsened into the “very unhealthy” range today. The PSI for the next 24 hours is expected to remain “very unhealthy”, and may even go into the “hazardous” range.

This is why we are closing all primary and secondary schools tomorrow. We are also giving out N95 masks to vulnerable and needy Singaporeans at community clubs from 10am to 10pm tomorrow. Those who are eligible include: blue CHAS card holders; Pioneer Generation card holders; ComCare recipients above 62 years old; and ComCare recipients with long-term medical issues. Volunteers will visit residents who are unable to go to the CCs on their own.

There is no national shutdown of work, but employers should not compromise on the health and safety of their employees, especially those working outdoors.

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Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean’s Facebook post

My Indonesian counterpart, Coordinating Minister Luhut Panjaitan, phoned me this afternoon. He assured me that the Indonesian government is taking the haze very seriously and deploying more troops to deal with the fires.

I thanked him, and told him that Singapore too is taking the haze very seriously. We closed schools last Friday when the PSI reached hazardous levels, and I was at that very moment of his phone call, visiting my elderly and vulnerable residents to check on their well-being, and distributing masks. I informed him that we receive many questions from Singaporeans and the international community, and will have to let them know, factually, the seriousness of the haze situation.

I also informed him that Singapore’s offer to assist Indonesia in our own small way to put out the fires still stands – it would be a sign of cooperation between our two countries, so that Indonesians and Singaporeans need not suffer the haze.

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Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam’s Facebook post

The Indonesian government has said that it is taking steps to deal with the problem. We hope those steps will lead to lasting outcomes, and we are prepared with work with Indonesia on this.

Yet at the same time, we are hearing some shocking statements made, at senior levels, from Indonesia, with a complete disregard for our people, and their own – PSI levels in parts of Indonesia are at almost 2,000 (PSI above 350 is considered hazardous in Indonesia).

How is it possible for senior people in government to issue such statements, without any regard for their people, or ours, and without any embarrassment, or sense of responsibility?

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Minister Tan Chuan-Jin Facebook post

"Look at how long they have enjoyed fresh air from our green environment and forests when there were no fires. Could be months. Are they grateful? But when forest fires occur, a month at the most, haze pollutes their regions. So why should there be an apology?"

Yusuf Kalla repeats this again. And again. While we get affected, particularly when the wind blows more directly, guess who bears the greatest impact...daily... at PSI levels of 1900?

It's not what is said that's important, crass as it may be. But what it reveals of the deeper sentiments and thinking the individual, and perhaps others hold, in the way they regard their neighbors.

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Minister Vivian.Balakrishnan post on Facebook

Ongoing investigations by NEA have indicated that the haze may have been related to fires in lands held via concessions by four Indonesian companies, namely:
  1. PT Rimba Hutani Mas;
  2. PT Sebangun Bumi Andalas Wood Industries;
  3. PT Bumi Sriwijaya Sentosa; and
  4. PT Wachyuni Mandira.
NEA has sent Preventive Measure Notices under Section 9 of the THPA to these four companies, requesting them to carry out the following:
  1. Deploy fire-fighting personnel to extinguish or prevent the spread of any fire on land owned or occupied by them;
  2. Discontinue, or not to commence, any burning activities on such land;
  3. Submit to NEA any plan of action to extinguish any fire on such land or to prevent its recurrence.
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Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong post on Facebook

Merlion is mythical like the Garuda and will not be affected by the haze. But we humans will be, not just now but also in the long term if haze continues year after year.

We can hand out face masks and take precautionary measures but the real solution is to tackle the cause at source. If Indonesia can stamp out illegal burning, they will gain investor confidence in their abilities to tackle other complex challenges.

The haze is their litmus test for effective administration and regional leadership. We all see it, breathe it; and there is no hiding. --- gct

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Singapore should help solve haze issue, not just talk about it: Indonesian V-P Jusuf Kalla
Indonesian Vice-President Jusuf Kalla said that Singapore should help solve haze issue, not just talk about it.PHOTO: AFP

The Indonesian government welcomes any country, including Singapore, that wants to help extinguish forest and land fires in the country to remove the haze, Vice-President Jusuf Kalla has said.

"Go ahead, we are open. Singapore can come and see for themselves if they want to help. Don't just talk (about it)," said Mr Kalla on Sunday (Sept 27) in New York, according to a report by the Antara news agency.

Singapore has previously expressed frustration with Indonesia regarding the smog that has affected the country and expressed its willingness help to battle the fires - offers that Indonesia has so far rejected.

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Indonesia open to help from any country, including Singapore: VP Jusuf Kalla

The Indonesian government is open to help from any country, including Singapore, if they wish to assist in fighting the forest fires that are causing the haze in the region, Indonesian Vice-President Jusuf Kalla said on Sunday (Sep 27).

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit in New York, Mr Kalla said the Indonesian government has noted Singapore’s protests against the haze.

Local news agency Antara News quoted Mr Kalla as saying.
"Please come, we are open. Singapore can see for itself. Singapore, please come if you want to help. Don't just talk,"
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Indonesia, Singapore trade barbs over haze

Indonesian officials had shown "a complete disregard for our people, and their own" in their handling of the fires, Singapore Foreign and Law Minister K Shanmugam said in a Facebook post last week.

Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla on Sunday urged Singapore to act on its offer to help fight the fires.

"Singapore can join and see for themselves. Don't just talk," Kalla was quoted as saying by Antara during a visit to New York.

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Merlion and Garuda

Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong yesterday wrote a post on Facebook directed at Indonesia and the haze crisis.

"Merlion is mythical like the Garuda and will not be affected by the haze. But we humans will be, not just now but also in the long term if haze continues year after year," he said. The Merlion and Garuda are associated with Singapore and Indonesia respectively.

"If Indonesia can stamp out illegal burning, they will gain investor confidence in their abilities to tackle other complex challenges. The haze is their litmus test for effective administration and regional leadership. We all see it, breathe it; and there is no hiding."

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Let's take a common problem - your neighbor burns joss stick and incense paper everyday thereby creating smoke and ash in his house as well as yours. To him, he is appeasing his God and so he has to bear the smoke and ash.

But to you, your health is affected and so what should you do?
  • Suffer in silence
  • Pray for Rain to wash away the smoke and ash
  • Complain to everyone in your FaceBook
  • Speak to him to solve the problem
  • Build a high wall to keep away smoke and ash
  • Retaliate by doing the same
  • Report to the Police
  • Sue him in Court of Law
The course of your action would definitely affect your relationship with your neighbor.