The Jakarta Post
The intense pressure and complaints from the Singaporean government and citizens for Indonesia to take action on the haze have resulted in a mixed response from their Indonesian counterparts.
An official of the Pekanbaru Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) declared his doubts that the Sumatran forest fires were the main cause of Singapore's air pollution.
Indonesian officials accused Singaporean and Malaysian oil palm companies of being behind the illegal forest clearing and accused Singapore of 'behaving like a child'. Meanwhile, several fellow Indonesians pointed out that Singaporeans had taken for granted the fact that Indonesia had been 'supplying' clean oxygen to Singapore for decades.
In the mid of all this haze, it is important for us to take a step back and view this issue with clear minds. Instead of solving the issue, pointing fingers at each other will only serve to escalate the diplomatic tension between our countries. Indonesia is attempting cloud-seeding to fight the fires; this action should be noted and supported by the other respective countries.
Furthermore, governments of the three countries should work hand-in-hand to investigate the firms responsible for the forest clearing and deal with them.
Most importantly, citizens of all countries should stop blaming and attacking one another. The central issue that lies beneath this haze is not who is at fault but who the true victims are. I am calling on everyone to realize that the bottom line is that all three countries suffer from this 'hazardous' haze.
In the end, it is the wider communities in the countries that must endure the consequences of the greedy and irresponsible acts of individuals. With the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) 2015 just around the corner, strengthening people-to-people connectivity is more urgent than ever.
Hence, the establishment of people-to-people connectivity based on trust and understanding will not only ensure a smoother flow of free trade, it will also lift economies and create stronger diplomatic relationships.
It all comes down to us, the people. After all, this is the era of global citizenship.
Shaffira D. Gayatri
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