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.