Sunday, June 23, 2013

Haze : Improvement in Singapore But Worsening in Malaysia.

Yesterday the pollution index in Singapore escalated to the "life-threatening" level, breaching the "400" mark- a record high. The previous day, the highest was 371 - already considered hazardous. 

Today it dropped to "moderate" in Singapore  but the haze --  I'd call it smog -- has intensified this side of the causeway.

This morning was a smokey choking morning in Taman Tun dr Ismail. I could hardly see the hills. Nor the towering One World Hotel.

Expectedly, the PM  has declared emergency in Muar and Ledang districts with immediate effect after API readings in the two areas surpassed the 750 mark. 

That is way too high.

According to Bernama, the PM said the haze  emergency declaration does not involve imposition of a curfew and also there is no change in the method of administration either at the state or federal level for now. 

 Muar recorded the highest with 750, followed by Bukit Rambai, Malacca (357) and Malacca City with (364).

The highest API ever recorded in Malaysia was in Sarawak in 1997 with reading of 860.

API readings as at 8am today (23/06/13) are Pasir Gudang (123), Kemaman (140), Klang (189), Balok Baru, Kuantan (137), Petaling Jaya (111), Johor Baru (114), Shah Alam (104), Port Dickson (168), Kota Tinggi (137), Banting (110), Bukit Rambai, Malacca (357), Malacca City (364), Muar (750).

Indonesia has begun seeding clouds in an attempt to create rain to extinguish the blazes in the hot spots and at the same time has launched  investigations into plantation firms suspected of starting the fire. How far these investigations will go and whether any action will be taken remains to be seen.

You know, they could have started the cloud-seeding operations before the haze got to be so bad. If this was the only way to put out the fires.

I do recall an Indonesian official saying that the government had considered cloud-seeding but decided against it as it would take two weeks.

“If there is no downpour then the haze could last for weeks, or even months. So we’ve decided to leave it in the hands of nature. And let’s just pray for that,” Indonesia's  Forestry Ministry general secretary Hadi Daryantohad said. buat pulak  cloud-seeding.
 They had given the impression that they were not going to bend backwards to make life better for us or the Singaporeans. And the truth is thye have never been quite bothered despite have fostered all sorts of undertaking to resolve the haze problem that is caused by forest fires in Sumatra.

This is not the first time we've had the smog blown in our direction. It is a yearly thing. Year in, year out. But this is the worst since 2005.  Before that, it was in 1997 -- causing serious health problems in the region as well as devastating business activities.

You can't force Indonesia to please put out the fires, to please stop those farmers from slashing and burning the plantations that will also burn the peat soil which will take such a long time to be put out. Or to please ratify the Asean Agreement on trans-boundary Haze Pollution that was adopted 12 years ago.

Singapore, so badly enveloped by the choking smog, has been pressuring Indonesia. Indonesia, in response, had,short of saying shut up.

Might as well have said shut up.. Its minister Agung Laksono told Singapore not to behave "like a child and making all this noise".

I tell you -- Indonesia is happy to have unleashed the smog. It's their message every year to Malaysia and Singapore that -- well they can send us the haze and decide how much smog we deserve.

Anyway -- let's pray for a lot of rain  now . We can't wait for June 28 -- that's the date Indonesia's Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) has predicted that rain will fall.

Meanwhile -- take good care of yourselves during these smoggy days -- stay indoors, drink lots of water, and if you have to go out, wear a mask...