Tuesday, September 15

We can see how hard Indonesians are working to limit industry fire haze over S.E. Asia

Just another aspect of the 21st Century's face.  See also Erik Meijaard's September 7 op-ed for the Jakarta Globe: Get Your Facts Right on Indonesia's Haze Problem.

Air pollution in Singapore reached its highest level in a year on Thursday as smog from Indonesian forest fires shrouded the island nation in a veil of gray, irking tourists and alarming authorities with hours left before general elections.
They are burning forests, it's blowing here. What can we do about it?" Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong told the crowd at a lunchtime rally on Tuesday.
He said the wealthy city-state was working with its giant neighbor Indonesia on fixing the problem, but said that they had [yet] to solve it.
"The government is cooperative, attitudes amongst the community, something different," Lee said.
In January, Indonesia ratified a long-awaited regional agreement on haze pollution that is binding on all 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. The agreement calls on Indonesia to take steps to ease the problem through efforts of its own and international cooperation. If not, it can be held liable for the impact of haze on its neighbors. [...]
Schools Shut, Flights Diverted as Southeast Asia's Haze Worsens

The haze blanketing parts of Southeast Asia worsened as smoke from Indonesian forest fires forced Malaysia to close schools in some states and divert flights, and put Singapore’s Formula One race at risk after other outdoor events were canceled.

The city-state’s three-hour pollutant index surged to 249 as of 9 p.m. on Monday, the highest this year and crossing into the "very unhealthy" range for a second day. The gauge also climbed to a similar level in parts of Indonesia’s Kalimantan and Sumatra. In neighboring Malaysia, the air quality reached unhealthy levels in Kuala Lumpur and several states, leading to closures of more than 2,000 schools in those areas.


Singapore Environment Minister Vivian Balakrishnan reiterated the city-state’s concerns about the haze to his Indonesian counterpart Siti Nurbaya, and extended its offer to help. 

Indonesia also agreed to share the names of companies suspected to have caused the fires, the city-state’s National Environment Agency said

The blazes are often started to clear land for plantations. 

Indonesian President Joko Widodo ordered the deployment of an additional 1,600 military forces to help in Riau and South Sumatra, the Press Trust of India reported.


The low visibility also affected flights out of Sepang, outside Kuala Lumpur, according to AirAsia Bhd. About 29 flights were either delayed, diverted or canceled Monday because of the haze, the low-cost carrier said. Flights in the northern Penang state and Kuching in east Malaysia were also affected in the past week, the airline said.

The country’s Marine Department and Civil Aviation Department issued warnings for the industries to be on high alert as the worsening haze situation reduced visibility in some major cities and towns, the Star reported. Cloud seeding for haze relief may start Tuesday, the Malay Mail reported, citing the Meteorological Department.

Eleven airlines including PT Garuda Indonesia Ltd. and Singapore Airlines Ltd.’s SilkAir rescheduled their flights to Pekanbaru in Riau on Tuesday, the Jakarta Post reported. Malaysia’s Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Wan Junaidi Jaafar said Tuesday he will visit Indonesia and meet his counterpart soon.


Singapore’s schools will suspend outdoor and physical activities when pollution levels are in the “very unhealthy” range, the education ministry said, and will consider closing primary and secondary schools when it reaches a “hazardous” level.



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