Hazardous haze (PSI hits all time high: 321)

Latest update on the haze situation at 11pm:

Haze in Singapore hits new high, PSI at 321 at 10pm


SINGAPORE’S air is now “hazardous” as the Pollutant Standards Index soared to 321 at 10pm, the worst reading in its history.

Air becomes “hazardous” when the index passes 300. The previous worst reading was 226, in 1997.

The Singapore Armed Forces has stopped all outfield training until further notice. Several other organisations such as the Singapore Civil Defence Force and Ministry of Home Affairs all reduced physical and outdoor training when the index crossed 100, while NTUC FairPrice has issued face masks to all of its pump attendants at its petrol stations.

Earlier on Wednesday, Environment Minister Vivian Balakrishnan acknowledged that Singaporeans are “very frustrated, angry and distressed about the situation”.

Both Dr Balakrishnan and Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam spoke to their Indonesian counterparts on Tuesday to urge them to take tougher action against companies responsible for the illegal burning.

The National Environment Agency said on Tuesday night that haze is likely to last for the next few days, and is the result of fires in Sumatra, Indonesia.

Choking and sputtering in this foggy daze…and revisiting an old post, Walking (in the haze).



I have met with but one or two persons in the course of my life who understood the art of Walking, that is, of taking walks–who had a genius, so to speak, for SAUNTERING, which word is beautifully derived “from idle people who roved about the country, in the Middle Ages, and asked charity, under pretense of going a la Sainte Terre,”

It is true, we are but faint-hearted crusaders, even the walkers, nowadays, who undertake no persevering, never-ending enterprises. Our expeditions are but tours, and come round again at evening to the old hearth-side from which we set out. Half the walk is but retracing our steps. We should go forth on the shortest walk, perchance, in the spirit of undying adventure, never to return–prepared to send back our embalmed hearts only as relics to our desolate kingdoms. If you are ready to leave father and mother, and brother and sister, and wife and child and friends, and never see them again–if you have paid your debts, and made your will, and settled all your affairs, and are a free man–then you are ready for a walk.


Surely T jests…what a price to pay for a walk !
Then again, who is to say a walk is not as serious and holy a business as walking with and following the One; after all, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service”.
[Luke 9:62]

T continues:

To come down to my own experience, my companion and I, for I sometimes have a companion, take pleasure in fancying ourselves knights of a new, or rather an old, order–not Equestrians or Chevaliers, not Ritters or Riders, but Walkers, a still more ancient and honorable class, I trust. The Chivalric and heroic spirit which once belonged to the Rider seems now to reside in, or perchance to have subsided into, the Walker–not the Knight, but Walker, Errant. He is a sort of fourth estate, outside of Church and State and People.

I think that I cannot preserve my health and spirits, unless I spend four hours a day at least–and it is commonly more than that–sauntering through the woods and over the hills and fields, absolutely free from all worldly engagements.

I, who cannot stay in my chamber for a single day without acquiring some rust, and when sometimes I have stolen forth for a walk at the eleventh hour, or four o’clock in the afternoon, too late to redeem the day, when the shades of night were already beginning to be mingled with the daylight, have felt as if I had committed some sin to be atoned for,–I confess that I am astonished at the power of endurance, to say nothing of the moral insensibility, of my neighbors who confine themselves to shops and offices the whole day for weeks and months, aye, and years almost together. I know not what manner of stuff they are of–sitting there now at three o’clock in the afternoon, as if it were three o’clock in the morning.

So, be it chivalrously cavalierly or errantly, we walk…
Though four hours everyday seems such a luxury in this present age, like T, rusty is how I feel if denied my regular walk and airing from my chambered cell.

But sometimes, the outdoors air may prove to be less of a cordial elixir towards “preserving health and spirits”.



Haze back in S’pore:

We are caught in the tail-end of the Southwest monsoon winds of the summer months. Hoping and praying for the cleansing rain and favourable winds of the torrential Northeast monsoon is futile — that is at least two months away. Only chance we have is for the Inter-monsoon to arrive promptly and have its swirling whippy winds give us at least a 50/50 chance of escaping the haze.

I’ll hate to have to go a-sauntering and choking in a foggy daze.
The haze is of course due to the seasonal slashing-and-burning of the region’s farms and plantations and the vagaries of the prevailing winds and monsoons. It has not always been this way; it only got this bad in the last 15-20 years as the commercial plantations got larger and larger, buying out and consolidating the smaller family farms. (Capitalism at its worst)

[Slash-and-burn as a landclearing technique is not evil in itself and has been used in subsistence farming for thousands of years; in fact, prudent use of slash-and-burn can regenerate non-fertile (or ‘farmed-out’) land by releasing nutrients, allowing the land to lay fallow and carrying out proper crop+plot rotation.
But in the modern world of huge commercial plantations often cultivating only one/two cash crops, indiscriminate large-scale slashing-and-burning is carried out ILLEGALLY and UNCONSCIONABLY, simply as the cheapest means of clearing land.]

In some good years (and there have been many), the onset of the slash-and-burn season fortuitously coincided with favourable winds, resulting in relatively haze-free years. The bad years are when the Evil Planters decide to start slash-and-burn season early in the Southwest monsoon, then the haze can come on unbearably thick and last very long.

I wrote that post back in 2009 during September, in the middle to the end of the Southwest monsoon season, the usual period during hazy years when the smoke from the slashing-and-burning of the region’s forests becomes a problem, but when we would at least have the coming changing winds and inter-monsoons of Oct/Nov to look forward to for some relief.

So, after the last three relatively good years of favourable winds and being mostly haze-free, I guess this year, is one of the bad years…

In some good years (and there have been many), the onset of the slash-and-burn season fortuitously coincided with favourable winds, resulting in relatively haze-free years. The bad years are when the Evil Planters decide to start slash-and-burn season early in the Southwest monsoon, then the haze can come on unbearably thick and last very long.

This time (PSI of 321) is the worst yet. And we are still early into the Southwest monsoon. Sigh, I expect many months of suffering ahead of us… Unless some political and economic weight and leverage can finally be brought down to bear on the Evil Planters this time!

But oops, am a shareholder and part evil planter too…

One thought on “Hazardous haze (PSI hits all time high: 321)

  1. Heh, good comment and rant by TS on the above post on his Pinboard page.

    Hazardous haze (PSI hits all time high: 321) | Late Monsoons…

    That we are made to suffer year after year is a failure of respective Governments. It is not as if the Evil Planters are unidentifiable. There are smoke trails all the way back to source of the illegal clearing! The Indonesian government should charge them, fine them, jail them! Singapore government is only good at one thing – suppressing internal political opposition. Helpless when it comes to getting a foreign government to take action in the interest of Singaporeans. Why not for a change try suing Indonesia instead of some poor local non-PAP politician?
    22 hours ago

    I agree. But in all reality (ie. the entrenched political and economic reality within Indonesia), precious little can be done.

    See first, the outcome of today’s hasty meeting when our NEA top delegation flew to Jakarta (fresh air and clear blue skies over Jakarta, yah!) to meet with Indonesian officials:


    Singapore Attends Emergency Haze Meeting Convened By Indonesia

    Jakarta, Indonesia, 20 June 2013 – Singapore representatives met with Indonesian officials today in Jakarta to discuss the severe haze situation at an urgent meeting in Jakarta this afternoon. The meeting was arranged by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Indonesia and involved senior Indonesian officials1.

    2 The Singapore delegation, led by the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Environment Agency (NEA), Mr Andrew Tan, expressed Singapore’s serious concerns over the severe haze situation to Mr Yuri Thamrin, Director General for Asia-Pacific and African Affairs of Indonesia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who chaired the meeting. Singapore also stressed that haze remains a transboundary problem that affects not only Indonesia but regional countries. Indonesia assured Singapore that it would give the issue greater attention. (Refer to Annex A for NEA’s CEO opening remarks at the meeting).

    4 As there had been a report from the Indonesian Forestry Ministry that Singapore companies may be involved in illegal burning activities, Singapore requested that Indonesia share the names of such errant companies, though the primary responsibility to take legal and enforcement action against these companies lie with Indonesia. It was emphasised that it would be better if Indonesia reveal all the companies involved in such errant acts regardless of whether they are registered in Indonesia, Malaysia or Singapore so that they can all be brought to task. The haze is after all a transnational issue.

    5 Singapore also offered Indonesia an assistance package, similar to previous haze episodes which includes among other things, an aircraft for cloud seeding operations as well high resolution satellite pictures and hotspot coordinates. (Refer to Annex B for a chronology of Singapore’s haze assistance.) Indonesia said they would consider these proposals. Singapore also requested Indonesia to ratify the ASEAN Transboundary Haze Agreement which Indonesia signed in 2002. Indonesia informed Singapore that they would be seeking their parliament’s approval on this.

    Yes, this is all just jaw-jaw, talk-talk, and absolutely no action taken towards a long-term solution. And we all know why…

    See NEA’s release of the Haze Satellite Images taken of the hotspots in Sumatra and the list of the exact coordinates of the hotspots’ locations and offending plantations.

    Here is one of the large plantation operators in Sumatra. And his economic and political background and ambitions: (Bakrie sets sights on Indonesia’s top job – FT.com)
    Asian Godfathers’ reach and influence are too well-entrenched at the highest levels in every country in the region (including ours).
    It’s sad but unfortunately, that’s the way it has always been…

    [btw, TS, if you don’t wish to have your comment shown here, let me know and I will remove it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s