Singapore calls on Jakarta to tackle haze

By Feng Zengkun | Source: ANN

Singapore has called on Indonesia to name those companies which are causing the haze in the region and take action against them for illegal burning.

It noted that primary responsibility for dealing with these companies rests with Indonesia because they would have carried out acts on Indonesian territory and broken its laws.

Singapore remained ready to work with Indonesia at the provincial level to mitigate the haze problem, said Singapore’s Environment Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, who also asked Indonesia to share information to improve the monitoring of hot spots and land-clearing activities.

“We need to exert commercial pressure against companies causing the haze,” Balakrishnan said in a Facebook post yesterday, adding that he had spoken to Indonesian Environment Minister Balthasar Kambuaya and “expressed our deep distress with the situation”.

Yesterday, Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam also spoke to his counterpart Marty Natalegawa twice to stress the urgency of the situation.

Marty told The Straits Times that he hoped experts from Singapore and Indonesia’s environment and forestry ministries could meet soon.

“I had a good talk with minister Shanmugam… and hopefully the experts can get together soon to compare notes on what is happening and where, and what is being done,” said the Indonesian Foreign Minister.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Facebook last night that the government would continue to monitor the situation and stay in close touch with the Indonesian authorities.

“Farmers and plantation owners in Sumatra are burning crops to clear land in the dry season, and unfortunately, the winds are blowing the smoke all the way to Singapore,” he said.

The Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) soared to its highest in 16 years on Monday when it hit 155.

The record was a reading of 226 in 1997.

The smog abated slightly yesterday, with the PSI falling to below 100 in the day before creeping up to 134 at midnight.

Air becomes unhealthy when the index exceeds 100.

Organisers of some activities were not taking any chances.

A carnival on road safety by Shell Singapore today has been aborted, while the Outward Bound School sent more than 300 students home yesterday.

The Education Ministry said schools have to stop all outdoor activities, including physical education lessons, sports and games when the PSI crosses 100.

Other groups like the Singapore Civil Defence Force and Singapore Armed Forces said they would scale back physical and outdoor training if the air became unhealthy.

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