Singaporean haze: now you still see me

now you cant see me


The relationship between either Singapore or Malaysia and Indonesia has never been obviously easy. Our relationship with the two nations have been put into countless tests: some housemaids indiscriminately ill-treated, numerous young people trafficked and exploited inhumanely either in industrial sectors or prostitution, Malaysia claiming some waters and portions of our cultures we ourselves, to be honest, rarely appreciate, Singapore rumored to have illegally imported sands from Riau archipelago for its reclamation projects, and at its top list today, the en masse haze pollution brought about as a consequence of mushrooming ‘slash-and-burn’ tactics employed in numerous palm oil plantations across Sumatra and Borneo.

The haze has seemingly been on its satanic cycle, reiterating what the age-old wisdom says, ‘history repeats itself’. Indonesia itself has, as cynically described, ‘exported’ huge amounts of haze to Malaysia and Singapore, firstly in 1997, secondly in 2006, thirdly in 2009, and the latest in 2013. Singapore’s air pollution indicator, or PSI, even climaxed at 400, the level beyond which may trigger a nearly post-apocalyptic phantasm. Virtually all the populace were hardly able to view the city-state’s skyline, as though thoroughly consumed by smog.

Here comes the question: who is to blame for such rehearsed occurrence? The pin-pointing diplomatic war has just commenced. Indonesian government accused Singaporean and Malaysian palm-oil giants of failing to abide by ‘zero-burn’ policies; both authorities, in response, criticized our venal, red-tape-takes-all-the-baksheesh administration which had let loose the corporations in exploiting the nature. President SBY himself, meanwhile, had offered an official apology, but as a consequence, became subject of ridicule for bulk of the parliament. Indonesia, instead of cooperating with Singaporean and Malaysian emergency teams, opted to seek assistance from Russian military planes to extinguish the raging hot spots. Online, most Singaporeans incessantly castigated to both Singaporean and Indonesian governments for failing to sanction the most possible penalty for the companies involved.

Pin-pointing, ironically, never makes us look subtle. We instead only haul over the coals to other sides without utter contemplation at our own. And that is, in my personal opinion, what currently happens between our wiggle-waggle relation. Indonesia aims for a greener economy, but the implementation of zero-burn policies merely remains valid on paper. The government targets 1-billion-tree campaign, but our forests prevail on fire beyond control. Those plantation giants are, miserably, Janus-faced; on one side, they have planted hundred millions of trees and mangroves. On the other, they blindly pollute the environment, and destroy more woods. Either Indonesian or Singaporean government promises strict punishment for plantation giants. In the end, only petty farmers, or small or middle plantation owners, taste the bitter justice, while corporations with influential political ties remain safe.

The hail may have come to Singapore today, but in the future, with little measures taken until today, everything is beyond predilection if such things, probably on larger scale, may possibly take place again.


Read the report about Singapore’s downpour in Global Voices Online.

For those with the foggiest ideas, refer to the full chronology in Wikipedia.


How Taleb defines ‘stable’




Nassim Nicholas Taleb, a financial analyst-turned-philosopher shares his ubiquitously ‘anti-mainstream’ thoughts about what it means to be ‘stable’. Having experienced life in tumultuous and tranquil places (he spent his childhood in war-ravaged Lebanon, and adulthood in Wall Street), he expresses his viewpoints in Epiphanies, a sub-section about idea-shower from the world’s leading thinkers, by Foreign Policy magazine.




The most stable country in the history of mankind, and probably the most boring, by the way, is Switzerland. It’s not even a city-state environment; it’s a municipal state. Most decisions are made at the local level, which allows for distributed errors that don’t adversely affect the wider system. Meanwhile, people want a united Europe, more alignment, and look at the problems. The solution is right in the middle of Europe — Switzerland. It’s not united! It doesn’t have a Brussels! It doesn’t need one.

I just came back from Lebanon, which I feel is the most stable place in the whole area. Every risk is visible to the naked eye there; you can’t be harmed by something like that. The homicide rate is much lower than that in the United States. The media says it’s chaos — but it’s not. In the end, it’s stable because Hezbollah and the Shiites know that they have to live with the Sunnis and the Christians. It can’t fall apart because it’s a perfectly controlled mess.

Indonesia’s fuel fervor (and chaos in other emerging markets)

fuel hike protest in indonesia

Fuel subsidies remain a sticky issue for most of the developing world’s governments. At a disproportionate amount, this imposes a threat to fiscal stability to a nation’s annual budget; lowering it may trigger inflation, and possibly, social upheaval. The effacement of fuel subsidies in Nigeria have resulted in days of rioting across the country’s major cities. Several regimes in Asian and Latin American countries fell prey to en masse protests when fuel price hike is announced. The lifeblood of Venezuela’s highly discounted basic items relies heavily on the rulers’ generous subsidies on oil production, a slight increase of which may even shake the already fragile social structure of the nation.

And Indonesia itself is not impenetrable to this ‘poison’. Over the last 2 decades, the ‘up-and-down’ game of fuel price politics has widely affected the livelihood of the nation: a decades-old dictator deposed, riots flaring up in major cities, university students clashing with police and even societies themselves, labor protests and union-enforced strikes, red-plate vehicles burnt down, street blockades resulting in total logjam, and pre-election ‘money politics’ allegation as seen from compensation packages offered to the hardest-hit poor (a mere monthly cash of 15 US$ distributed to every family).

Until you realize that the country itself is not alone (it is, in fact, happening in numerous emerging-market hot spots), in context of ‘social fervor’.

Read the full article here:

A blogger’s hope for religious tolerance in Myanmar




A Burmese blogger spins the yarn about her utter disappointment – and her personal aspiration – in the religious crisis penetrating bulk of Myanmar’s territories, particularly Buddhist-Muslim conflicts which have seen lives taken off throughout months.


I’m a Buddhist. I’m a Burmese living in Myanmar. But I just don’t have anything against the Muslims living in Myanmar. They have been living in Myanmar for so many years, just like the Chinese Myanmars. They are our neighbours, they are our co-workers, they are our classmates, they are our friends. What’s wrong with that? They worship their religion. We worship our religion. What’s wrong with that? The fundamental of all religions is based on peace. There are good people in Buddhists. There are bad people in Buddhists. Likewise, there will be good people and bad people in Christians, Muslims, or Hindus, or any other religions. There are only two kinds of people for me: good people and bad people. Why can’t people get the simplicity of that logic?

You don’t have to prosecute another religion just so that your own religion will grow. What kind of religion would it be if you had to use violence and bloodshed just to uphold it? Nobody can destroy the God that you have kept in your heart. You just have to follow what your religion has teach and try to be a good person, who doesn’t have to survive at the sake of others. That’s what I firmly believe, as a Buddhist. I am not praying 24 hours a day, but I try my best to have a good heart, and try my best to follow Buddha’s teachings. Lord Buddha has never said that we would have to make people suffer for the propagation of Buddhism.


Read the full article here.