Monday, 2 November 2015

"Hazy" statements about the Haze

Apec: Wind to blame for haze problem, says Indonesian VP Jusuf Kalla
Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla at the Apec CEO Summit in Manila on Nov 18, 2015. PHOTO: EPA

Indonesian Vice-President Jusuf Kalla on Wednesday (Nov 18) blamed the wind for spreading the haze to neighbouring countries, saying it was something beyond Indonesia's control.

Speaking at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) CEO summit, Mr Kalla said: "I'm so sorry to Malaysia and Singapore to say that we cannot control the wind. We don't want the haze to go everywhere. (It happened) not because we want it to (affect) our neighbours, but because of the wind."

Mr Kalla was asked during a question-and-answer session what challenges the Indonesian government faces in stamping out the yearly haze brought on by farmers slashing and burning farmland in Sumatra and Kalimantan.

related: Winds caused haze problem, says Jusuf Kalla

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Indonesian VP on haze problem:  We can’t control the wind
Is our haze bothering you? Sorry, but it’s the wind

Speaking at a dialogue with business leaders at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit, Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla was confronted with a question on his country’s perennial haze-forest fire smoke, which has been affecting neighboring Singapore and Malaysia, and has even reached parts of Thailand and the Philippines.

“One thing that we cannot control, it’s the wind. I’m so sorry Malaysia and Singapore to say that, because we cannot control the wind,” said Kalla, who filled in for Indonesia President Joko Widodo at regional leaders’ meet.

“We don’t want the haze going everywhere, but the wind we cannot control. That’s why if [the haze] comes to others, it happens not because we want to make the haze go to our neighbor, [but] because the wind does that,” said the official, drawing some laughter from his audience.

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Be a good neighbour like Najib instead of criticising, says Indonesia VP
Indonesia Vice President Jusuf Kalla gesture during an interview in Jakarta, October 27, 2015. Photo: Reuters

Indonesian Vice-President Jusuf Kalla said other neighbouring countries should emulate the attitude of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, who proposed measures to resolve the haze problem rather than simply criticising the country as Indonesia itself was struggling to end the crisis.

“Indonesia is thankful to Pak Najib and everyone, there is formal agreement at the ASEAN level on the (forest and estate) fires ... (and) if necessary to resolve the problems together, Indonesia is grateful for the joint efforts,” Mr Kalla said, referring to Mr Najib’s two-day visit to Indonesia earlier this month when he met with Indonesian President Joko Widodo to discuss the haze issue and to seek cooperation in the oil palm industry.

The Malaysian Prime Minister also made concrete suggestions to Indonesia on how to control the fires, such as building tube wells, which have served Malaysia well. Mr Widodo said he would send a team to study the wells in Malaysia.

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‘Brutally-frank’ Vivian says haze a deliberate, man-made tragedy, crime

He may be the country’s Foreign Affairs Minister, but Dr Vivian Balakrishnan put aside diplomatic niceties when talking about how the transboundary haze had blighted the region during a forum yesterday (Nov 3).

“I know foreign ministers are supposed to be nice, smiley, diplomatic people. But since I used to be the Environment Minister, I can be frank. Brutally frank,” he said during his plenary address at the 4th Responsible Business Forum on Sustainable Development held at Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre.

Without mincing his words, Dr Balakrishnan described the transboundary haze, caused by forest fires in Indonesia, as “a deliberate, man-made tragedy” and “a crime”.

related: vandalism against society, against the environment

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Minister Vivian Minister: I can be “brutally frank”
Screenshot of Vivian Balakrishnan from Facebook video

Newly-elected Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan have likely worsened diplomatic relations with Indonesia by openly calling the forest fire in Indonesia “deliberate” and “a crime”. Speaking to the media at a forum today (Nov 3), the Minister said he can be “brutally frank” with Indonesia.

“I know foreign ministers are supposed to be nice, smiley, diplomatic people. But since I used to be the Environment Minister, I can be frank. Brutally frank. …the transboundary haze, caused by forest fires in Indonesia, (is) a deliberate, man-made tragedy and a crime.

It would be bad enough if this was a natural disaster. We would all shake our heads, huddle together, reach out, help one another. But this is not a natural disaster. This is …vandalism against society, against the environment, and ultimately, against ourselves. It has impaired the health of millions of people, compromised the safety of aircraft, and damaged our regional economy”

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Southeast Asia's haze a ‘man-made tragedy and a crime’
Singapore's Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan addressing the audience at the fourth Responsible Business Forum for Sustainable Development. Image: Global Initiatives

Singapore’s Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan has labelled the recent Indonesian forest fires and resulting haze pollution in the region a “man-made tragedy and a crime”.

Not mincing his words, the Minister said at the opening of the Responsible Business Forum on Sustainable Development held in Singapore on Tuesday: “I know foreign ministers are supposed to be nice, smiley, diplomatic people. But since I used to be the Environment Minister, I can be frank. Brutally frank.”

“The transboundary haze that has afflicted our region for far too long is a man-made tragedy and a crime… It would be bad enough if this was a natural disaster. We would all shake our heads, huddle together, reach out, help one another. But this is not a natural disaster.

related: Transboundary haze pollution bill meant to send a 'strong signal': Balakrishnan

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Indonesia’s Fire Crisis: The Biggest Environmental Crime of the 21st Century

Raging forest fires across Indonesia responsible for thousands fleeing their homes due to crippling air pollution, with the resultant haze covering parts of Malaysia and Singapore, are now being described as a “crime against humanity” and the “biggest environmental crime of the 21st century.”

Estimates show nearly 130,000 acres of land in Sumatra were devastated by fire over the past few months, while 340,000 acres in Kalimantan were scorched as a result of illegal “slash and burn” deforestation–a quick and cheap means of clearing land. The land is being cleared for palm oil plantations, one of Indonesia’s key industries.

“BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010 looks relatively benign compared to Indonesia’s 2015 fire crisis,” wrote Dr. Eric Meijaard, an Indonesia-based associate professor at the University of Queensland, in a recent Jakarta Globe editorial,

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Southeast Asia's haze crisis: A 'crime against humanity'

Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia are choking under a thick haze of wildfire smoke caused by the annual burning of land for the production of pulp, paper and palm oil on the Indonesian islands of Sumatra and Kalimantan.

The haze is so bad it's been described by the Indonesian Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) as a "crime against humanity." Schools are closed, transport disrupted and half a million cases of acute respiratory infection have been recorded since July.

The annual burning churns out thick smoke across parts of Southeast Asia, but this summer's haze is the worst it's been for 20 years.

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Indonesia's fires labelled a 'crime against humanity' as 500,000 suffer
An Indonesian woman rides a motorbike amid thick haze in Palangkaraya, Central Kalimantan province, Indonesia. Photograph: Hugo Hudoyoko/EPA Kate Lamb in Jakarta

Raging forest fires across Indonesia are thought to be responsible for up to half a million cases of respiratory infections, with the resultant haze covering parts of Malaysia and Singapore now being described as a “crime against humanity”.

Tens of thousands of hectares of forest have been alight for more than two months as a result of slash and burn – the fastest and quickest way to clear land for new plantations.

Indonesia is the world’s largest producer of palm oil and fires are frequently intentionally lit to clear the land with the resulting haze an annual headache.

related:
Indonesia is burning. So why is the world looking away?
Is Indonesia's fire crisis connected to the palm oil in our snack food?
Indonesia's forest fires threaten a third of world's wild orangutans

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Forecast error, lack of govt action fan Indonesia fire woes
Indonesian soldiers spray water on a peat land fire near Palangkaraya, central Kalimantan, Indonesian October 28, 2015. Photo: Reuters

Indonesia’s weather agency failed to predict that the effects of the El Nino weather phenomenon this year would be worse than in 1997, a senior minister said today (Oct 28), as the government struggles to contain forest fires that have created a haze blanketing much of South-east Asia in recent months.

“I must admit there was a mistake in the BMKG (state weather agency) forecast that didn’t predict El Nino this year would be worse than 1997,” said Mr Luhut Panjaitan, the Coordinating Security Minister tasked by President Joko Widodo with overseeing the government’s response to the crisis.

“Our forecast was wrong.”

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Forecasters in Indonesia Underestimated How Much El Niño Would Worsen Massive Forest Fires

Indonesia's forecasters underestimated the El Niño weather event that has worsened the country's massive forest fires, which are blanketing Southeast Asia in a noxious, carbon-rich haze, a top government official said Wednesday.

"Our forecast was wrong," Luhut Panjaitan, the Cabinet minister managing Indonesia's response to the fires, told reporters.

El Niño, a periodic warming of the eastern Pacific Ocean, has fueled a drought across the island nation. That's made it harder to stop the fires that have been pumping huge quantities of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, while shrouding much of the country and some of its neighbors in choking smog.

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INDON MINISTER: SPORE'S OFFER OF ONLY 1 PLANE TO FIGHT FIRES IS INSULTING

In an interview with Tempo magazine, Indonesian Coordinating Minister for Politics, Law and Security Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan said that Singapore’s offer of only "one aircraft" to fight the raging forest fires was "insulting" to Indonesia. He also defended Indonesia's lack of enthusiasm in putting out the fires and for its delay in accepting external help.

Luhut explained:
“During the dry season, peatlands tend to be very flammable. When we bombard the land with water to put out the flames, they just come out again. So I get a headache when people get upset. What are we supposed to do? Then someone asks why we didn’t accept the assistance offered earlier. There are many reasons for that. Firstly, we wanted to try and do it on our own. Secondly, we didn’t realise the process would be so long. Thirdly, Singapore offered only one aircraft. It was insulting.”
Mr Luhut's statements were in contradiction to that of Indonesian Cabinet Secretary Pramono who revealed in an interview with CNN Indonesia (7 October 2015) that Indonesia had rejected's Singapore's offers of assistance because it was worried that Singapore would claim credit for solving the forest fires and haze problems.

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Jakarta rejected earlier offers ‘over concerns S’pore would claim credit’
A wooden boat is seen on Air Sugihan river during haze shrouds in Ogan Komering Ilir, Indonesia's South Sumatra province, October 7, 2015 in this picture taken by Antara Foto. Photo: Reuters

Indonesian Cabinet Secretary Pramono Anung said that Jakarta had earlier rejected Singapore’s offers of assistance to combat the transboundary haze crisis in the region because it was concerned that the city state would claim credit for solving the problem, even while the officials were worried about the rapidly deteriorating situation.

“The (Indonesian) government is not closing ourselves off to assistance. But if we are assisted, the government does not want them (Singapore) to claim the credit. It is the government that is working hard to resolve (this smog disaster) … So we do not want it to reach the point of them claiming credit for it,” Mr Anung told CNN Indonesia yesterday (Oct 7).

According to Indonesian media reports, President Joko Widodo held an unscheduled closed-door meeting yesterday to discuss the haze problem, which has worsened this week.

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Jakarta rejected earlier offers ‘over concerns S’pore would claim credit’
Pramono Anung

Indonesian Cabinet Secretary Pramono Anung said that Jakarta had earlier rejected Singapore’s offers of assistance to combat the transboundary haze crisis in the region because it was concerned that the city state would claim credit for solving the problem, even while the officials were worried about the rapidly deteriorating situation.

“The (Indonesian) government is not closing ourselves off to assistance. But if we are assisted, the government does not want them (Singapore) to claim the credit. It is the government that is working hard to resolve (this smog disaster) … So we do not want it to reach the point of them claiming credit for it,” Mr Anung told CNN Indonesia yesterday (Oct 7).

According to Indonesian media reports, President Joko Widodo held an unscheduled closed-door meeting yesterday to discuss the haze problem, which has worsened this week.

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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 provides “nice air” most of the time, and all you do is complain about the pollution
The neighbors just will not stop complaining. (Reuters/Beawiharta)

Every year during Indonesia’s six-month dry season, which lasts until around October, a noxious haze rises from the island of Sumatra. Generally lasting about a month at its worst, it’s so large that it hovers over an entire region, including Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand.

The haze is caused by massive amounts of dense smoke coming from fires that are illegally set to cheaply burn trees or peat off the land—land that can be more profitably used for producing paper or palm oil. The haze regularly leads to school closures, canceled flights, and serious health problems.

Neighboring nations, of course, complain about this—not that Indonesia’s government officials much seem to mind. In March, Indonesian vice president Jusuf Kalla said:
“For 11 months, they enjoyed nice air from Indonesia and they never thanked us. They have suffered because of the haze for one month and they get upset.”
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Indonesia says Singapore acting 'like a child' over haze
Agung Laksono

Indonesia on Thursday accused Singapore of acting "like a child" over choking smog from forest fires in Sumatra that has triggered an environmental crisis, as the city-state's premier warned it could last weeks.

The escalation in tensions between tiny Singapore and its vast neighbour came as the levels of haze enveloping the island hit a new record high, shrouding the whole city, from residential blocks to tree-lined parks.

As the acrid smell of burnt wood crept into people's flats and medical masks sold out at drug stores, the city-state's environment chief demanded "decisive action" to address the crisis after talks with Indonesian officials in Jakarta.

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Indonesia Says Singapore 'Behaving Like a Child' Over Haze

Agung Laksono

The minister for people's welfare also said Jakarta would reject any offer of financial aid from Singapore unless it was a large amount.

"Unless (Singapore) wants to give us a large amount, we won't consider accepting it," he said. "If it is only half a million, or one million dollars, we don't need that. We would rather use our own national budget."

The comments came as the neighbours prepared to hold emergency talks in Jakarta to ease the severe smog enveloping the city-state.

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Dumbass Remark of the Week: "Unless Singapore wants to give us a large amount, we won't consider accepting it."
CNA: Indonesia chides Singapore over reactions on haze situation

Coordinating Minister for People's Welfare Agung Laksono is this week's winner for Dumbass Remark of the Week. In a press conference, Mr Lakson accused Singaporeans of "behaving like a small child" over the haze.

The minister for people's welfare also said Jakarta would reject any offer of financial aid from Singapore unless it was a large amount.

"Unless (Singapore) wants to give us a large amount, we won't consider accepting it," he said. "If it is only half a million, or one million dollars, we don't need that. We would rather use our own national budget."

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Indonesia VP reiterates no need for apology over haze

Indonesia's Vice-President Jusuf Kalla has reiterated that Indonesia need not apologise to neighbouring countries over haze from forest fires in Sumatra and Kalimantan.

Indonesia only needs to ensure forest fires that cause haze do not recur, he was quoted as saying on Indonesian news site kompas.com.

"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?" he said during a dialogue session with Indonesians in New York at the Indonesian Consulate-General on Thursday.

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Indonesia provides “nice air” most of the time, and all you do is complain about the pollution

Every year during Indonesia’s six-month dry season, which lasts until around October, a noxious haze rises from the island of Sumatra. Generally lasting about a month at its worst, it’s so large that it hovers over an entire region, including Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand.

The haze is caused by massive amounts of dense smoke coming from fires that are illegally set to cheaply burn trees or peat off the land—land that can be more profitably used for producing paper or palm oil. The haze regularly leads to school closures, canceled flights, and serious health problems.

Neighboring nations, of course, complain about this—not that Indonesia’s government officials much seem to mind. In March, Indonesian vice president Jusuf Kalla said:
“For 11 months, they enjoyed nice air from Indonesia and they never thanked us. They have suffered because of the haze for one month and they get upset.”
read more

Indonesia's Vice-President Jusuf Kalla criticises neighbours for grumbling about haze
Neighbouring countries should be grateful for the clean air they enjoy for the rest of the year, said Mr Jusuf Kalla.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Cabinets may change but Indonesian leaders remain touchy when it comes to the haze brought on by forest fires.

Yesterday, in an echo of seasons past, Indonesian Vice-President Jusuf Kalla rapped neighbouring countries for complaining about the haze, and asked them instead to be grateful for the clean air they enjoy for the rest of the year.

"For 11 months, they enjoyed nice air from Indonesia and they never thanked us," he said.

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This is not what the Indonesian nation wants, it is because of nature
Agung Laksono

Indonesia on Thursday accused Singapore of "behaving like a child" by complaining about severe haze from raging forest fires on Sumatra island that has cloaked the city-state.

"Singapore should not be behaving like a child and making all this noise," Agung Laksono, the minister who is coordinating Indonesia's response to the haze crisis, told reporters in Jakarta.
"This is not what the Indonesian nation wants, it is because of nature."
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Ministers Using FB To Slam Haze

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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Get Your Facts Right on Indonesia's Haze Problem


Why only one aircraft?

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