The media of Malaysia are starting to ignore the smog/haze. Last week, I read about the tourism minister getting upset over the fact that the Australian and most European consulates had issued travel advisories about visiting Malaysia. He was saying how angry he was for being singled out, when the situation was equally bad in Singapore and Brunei. But, what he did not say, is that the government of Singapore has been more proactive in protecting its visitors against the poison air. For example, health advisories and health screens were stepped up. The media in Singapore spoke about the impending danger of breathing the noxious air. As a middle class foreigner, I have not experienced any kind of concern expressed towards my health. All that had happened was the thumping health expense that’s now exceeded my budget thanks to demand-supply relationship of the cost of medical care.
A concerned Malaysian named S. C. Chea writes:
First of all I must say that it is unusual that all English newspapers here including yours have chosen the word "haze" to describe this unhealthy air that has been produced annually by Indonesia since the 90s and that flows across the Malacca Straits to pollute neighbouring countries. "Haze" should not be associated with air pollution. The proper word for it is "smog" which is really atmosphere with suspended micron-size particulates wheras haze is atmosphere with condensed water vapour which was commonly experienced at places like Templar's Park in the 50's, 60's and even in the early 70's.
Having said this, the other thing is that we seem to have accepted its annual occurrence as if the two seasons in this country are not the rainy season and dry season, but the rainy season and smoggy season, and it is alright with us. Come on, what is wrong with Malaysia and all of us? Let us make no bones about this. Indonesia is the culprit. No need to make excuses for her - she is poor, she has wide territories to govern blah, blah. Even the Director-General of Tourism Malaysia said that the situation is not alarming.
The health of this nation must not be negotiable. Indonesia is responsible for causing untold damage to the health of our children and feeble senior citizens whether it is Indonesians doing the burning or Malaysian companies in Indonesia doing it. It is coming from the soil of Indonesia wafting across the Straits to pollute our air.
This problem is exactly like nations sharing the same river system. The country on the upper reaches of the river polluting the river is deemed to have committed an act of war to the country on the lower reaches of the river. Trans-border pollution whether polluting the water of another nation or the air of another must never be tolerated or condoned. The most recent case is the chemical contamination of a river in northern China which also runs through Russia to the Baltic Sea. Here is a one-off case and yet China has to pay damages to Russia. In Malaysia's case it is an annual affair since the 90's and it is alright with us because compared with other places it
is not too bad! The mentality of all of us is nothing if not amazing. We shouldn't and mustn't accept that Indonesia is too poor to do anything about it. Being poor is no licence to commit such atrocities!
Very rightly, s/he points out some interesting facts.
1. People in Malaysia are getting complaisant about the fact that they are being systematically poisoned yearly. People do not realize that the smog carries with it long term respiratory complications including the increased susceptibility to lunch cancer.
Every one seems to think that the rain will clear the smog away. How foolish can some “educated” people in important positions get? Nothing is going to change unless you stop the root cause of the smog. The burning in Indonesia MUST STOP immediately.