The current hazy situation has been the most prolonged and blame has been put on the El Nino phenomenon and intentional ‘slash and burn’ on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo. It has enveloped Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and Brunei in a plume of toxic gases, whose ill effects, we have probably yet to see.
Solutions to the issue may appear to be simple but the convoluted politics and bureaucracy entangled by traditional practices in agriculture, has literally left Governments toothless. So are we to expect this haze to be a regular affair? What are the urgent measures to be implemented in our efforts to prevent this from happening so often?
The government of Indonesia has been unsuccessful in controlling the ‘slash & burn’ practice and even more unsuccessful in controling forest fires in many remote areas of Sumatra. They appear resigned and can only wait for the rainy season to finish the job.
Sadly, the ASEAN caucus has chosen not to pressure the Indonesian government into getting its act together and accepting international help. Perhaps they see it as an internal affair. But when failures to govern a region under your control affects regions outside the country, it is certainly no longer an internal issue.
The health of others are at stake and we can no longer sit still. The gases are toxic and has potential harm. This fact must be recognised by the authorities so that more urgent measures can be implemented so that the haze will not be a permanent feature in our lives. The stakes are high for the current and future generations.
Health Ministry prepares to face prolonged haze
KUALA LUMPUR: The Health Ministry has made necessary preparations to face the possible increase in cases of illnesses due to the haze, which is expected to continue for another month.
Its deputy minister, Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahya said there was enough medicine and face masks to meet the situation.
“There is no need to worry. So far, there is no alarming increase in haze-related illnesses from our observations at hospitals and clinics nationwide,” he told a media conference after opening the Organ Donation Awareness Week on Saturday.
On Friday, Indonesia’s National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) head Willem Rampangilei was quoted by local media as saying that the haze problem, caused by forest and plantation fires in Indonesia, would end in a month with the beginning of the rainy season.
He said with the weather shift, the fires in the peat lands would be put out and the haze, which has plagued Malaysia and Singapore for the last two months, would be eliminated.