01 October 2015
Haze from Indonesian fires has again blanketed Singapore and Malaysia. Prevention strategies are improving, but will likely take years to become truly effective.
Smoke from Indonesia has again brought large parts of Malaysia and Singapore to a halt. By the morning of 24 September 2015 the Pollution Standards Index (PSI) had crossed into the ‘Very Unhealthy’ range on its way to a ‘Hazardous’ rating, and by Friday the 24-hour PSI rating hovered between 264-321; the highest levels in 2015. Conditions have fluctuated since, but the haze continues to shake both countries and impact their economic life.
The effects of this type of haze are increasingly familiar. Schools were closed, the most vulnerable became sick, health care services were stressed, and businesses that remained open saw commerce decline. The financial costs will prove significant when the numbers are in. The 1997 episode – which until recent years set the benchmark for haze pollution – likely cost Singapore upwards of SGD250 million in health expenditures, tourism reductions and lost productivity. The episode in June and July of 2013 was far worse, with financial impacts that are still being assessed. Beyond the dollars and cents, the haze impacts the quality of life for Singaporeans and the island’s visitors in ways that only the experienced can appreciate.
So why is the haze problem so hard to solve?
… Jackson Ewing is Director of Asian Sustainability at the Asia Society Policy Institute in New York. He is also an Adjunct Fellow at the Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies (NTS Centre) of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. This is a new RSIS series on the latest regional haze issue.
NTS Centre / Online
Last updated on 13/11/2015