Photo: Picnickers’ view of Gardens by the Bay shrouded in haze; AFP / Roslan Rahman
Think last year’s haze situation in Singapore was bad?
A Reuters report reveals this year’s pollution may be worse than that, thanks to Indonesia’s persistent slash-and-burn clearances on its island of Sumatra and an expected El Nino weather pattern.
Despite outrage from environmental groups and its neighbouring countries including Singapore, Jakarta apparently still has not ratified the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) 2002 Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution and forest fires — capable of burning for weeks due to peat deposits in the ground — are still burning in Sumatra.
The high likelihood of an El Nino weather pattern means Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore could face a severe drought in the coming months.
Said Singapore Environment Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, if we do face the four to six months of dry conditions starting June, “we could be in for a very difficult period”, especially if companies’ and people’s behaviour do not change.
Singapore is trying to do its part in purging companies involved in the forest clearance operations of its neighbouring country, but the law is only expected to be tabled in Parliament later this year.