I haven’t written on this blog for some time because I’ve been busy writing for The Breakfast Network. So if you haven’t yet moved over to http://www.breakfastnetwork.sg – do it now!!!
Okay, okay. I’ll try to keep Bertha Harian going because I use a different tone when I blog. Probably more of myself comes through when I take off the “fetters’’ of journalism. Not that these “fetters’’ are bad, it makes me more conscious of how hard it is to do good journalism. Blogging is easy. Mouthing off on Facebook is even easier. We’ve seen how easy in the past week or so, when practically everyone on FB that I know has something to say about this misbegotten smog that is choking us to death. I’ve been mouthing off too, especially when my frustration levels rise with every spike of the PSI. So easy. Flex fingers. Shoot mouth.
So what have people been saying about the haze? Practically no one is saying…”Oh those poor Indonesians…what do you expect them to do about the fire…?’’ Anyone who does so risks getting flamed and roasted over Riau, I suppose.
It’s a chronic problem and if the Indonesians haven’t found a solution, we can only infer a few things. (Do NOT shoot the messenger. This is a rational, objective piece culled together after an intensive reading of rants and rumblings on social media)
a. The Indonesian G doesn’t care if its forests are burning because it is used to it anyway. (If so, we should pity the Indonesians more than we pity ourselves)
b. The Indonesian G doesn’t care if its forests are burning so long as someone is paying it to look the other way. (This is purely an allegation. Scandalous speculation!)
c. The Indonesian G doesn’t care if its forests are burning even if it gets an international reputation as a world-class polluter and gets cursed by environmentalists because cleared land means stuff can be planted there and it’s good for economic development. (Classic Third World/developing country argument)
d. The Indonesian G cares but has lost control of the provinces where local leaders have run amok, selling off land to unscrupulous capitalists and ignorant smallholders who just want a cheap way to clear land. (Also known as the disadvantages of decentralised government)
e. The Indonesian G cares but lacks the equipment to douse the flames and is too proud to take offers of help. (Which means we should offer under-the-table, non-publicised types of help to save its face)
f. The Indonesian G cares but doesn’t lack being lectured to and wants to do stuff its own way and at its own time. (Like never?)
g. The Indonesian G cares but palm oil companies are too wily for them and besides, it does no good to piss off foreign investors. (A result of the economic strategy of growth-at-all-cost – and at everybody else’s expense)
Of course, the rational, objective and efficient people of Singapore can’t understand any of this which is why it is behaving childishly. And like children, we don’t like being told that we’re like children.
Actually, we’re more like teenagers who keep wondering what Mom and Dad are doing about the broken down air-conditioning in the house. So here’s a sampling of how teenagers behave:
a. Dear Dad/Pappy,
You really shouldn’t be letting us play outside. Do you want us to die? You really think those masks are good enough? We do NOT believe you. Somehow we think you’re in league with the neighbours and getting rich at our expense! You’re stunting our growth! No, we have no proof. And no, we don’t think we are being ridiculous! We just hate you! We going to adopt new parents in 2016.
b. Dear Dad/Pappy,
We know you’re doing your best for us but why are you letting yourself get bullied by our neighbours? So what if they are bigger and have a high fence? Don’t just send a letter! Tell them off! And bring some storm troopers with you! Go show them! We’re right behind you!
Your soon-to-be-NS-enlisted son
c. Dear Dad/Pappy,
We know you’re getting old but don’t you think you should move a bit faster? We won’t mind curfews, you know. Just tell us what to do and we’ll do it. We’re not the usual rebellious teenagers, more like we want you to set some house rules. And by the way, we not stupid either. We can understand data. PSI and PM2.5 and all that. We’re really good at maths and science. Serious. No need to protect us like we’re children. We already teenagers, for crying out loud!
Here’s to haze-free days!