Foreign Minister K Shanmugam has appeared to have thrown in the white towel for the Singapore haze, lamenting on Facebook that he is unable to resolve the yearly issue because the fire is in another country.
“The frustration of our people is all the greater because the haze can be prevented. The majority of the fires are man-made, by companies seeking to profit while people pay the costs.
There is only so much that we can do here in Singapore to stop the fires as they are in another country. We have offered assistance to help fight the fires (including this year, but our offer has yet to be accepted). We passed a bill in August 2014 that would allow us to prosecute errant companies found to be causing or contributing to the haze. We have asked Indonesia to give us the names of the companies so that we can consider if we can take action against them.
Indonesia too has a responsibility to take legal and enforcement action against errant companies since these companies violate Indonesia’s own laws.”
The haze has since caused frustrations and major health issues but the Singapore government has done little to introduce domestic measures to help Singaporeans better cope with the haze. When haze indicator levels hit over 200 psi, there was no stop work order and the government’s role has only been at best advisory.
Despite being neighbours for 50 years since Independence, relationship between Singapore and Indonesia was revealed to have remained rocky when Singapore’s offer to fight the fire have been flatly refused twice by the Indonesian authorities.