SDP proposes long-term response to haze

June 21, 2013
Singapore Democrats

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Singapore Democrats

The Singapore Democratic Party supportsthe Government’s efforts to address the severe haze conditions.$CUT$

The haze is mainly caused by slash andburn (SB) techniques widely used by traditional farmers orcorporations clearing land for development.

The United Nations’ has studied theimmediate and long term environmental impact of SB methods andproposed a range of alternative techniques. However, these ideas havenot been effectively adopted, resulting in the persistence of SB usein Indonesia.

There has been limited success intackling the haze problem at ASEAN level due to three factors:

1.    Focus on domesticpublic health maintenance;
2.    Absence of ahigh-level inter-governmental response; and
3.    Not enlistingglobal research and development expertise.

Until now, governmental efforts haveaimed mainly at assisting citizens to manage the negative effects ofthe haze. The absence of an ASEAN approach atHeads of Government level has limited the potential for a concertedregional response particularly since there is no clear regionaldefinition of the problem or enforcement mechanisms.

Governments may also have a limitedcommitment to solving the problem if government-linked companies areamong the perpetrators of SB techniques.

The SDP calls for:

1.    The Indonesiangovernment to ratify the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary HazePollution and work closely with Singapore to achieve a workableaction plan with resources committed on both sides.

2.    ASEAN to set up aninter-governmental ministerial-level ASEAN task force (IGTF) underexternal chairmanship to:

  • Explore wind and rain manipulationtechniques.
  • Study Australia’s bushfire managementsystem and other systems as are available.
  • Develop an Environmental ProtectionEndowment (IGEPE) to fund environmental protection initiatives.
  • Conduct long-term education of thefarmers about the hazards of SB and even subsidise them to eradicatethe practice.
  • Sanction corporations that conductburning of the forests.

We further call on the:

1.    Finance Ministerto declare the level of domestic Reserves that may be drawn down tofund immediate and long-term solutions.

2.    Trade and IndustryMinister to identify Singaporean companies that may be responsiblefor the forest fires and to work with these businesses to immediatelystop the practice.

3.    Law Minister todevelop an actionable Code of Practice for businesses.

4.    Environment andWater Resources Minister to provide the following amenities toresidents:

  • Clear guidelines to employers andschools /childcare centres on when to release theiremployees/children
  • Free face masks.
  • Free one-off polyclinic treatment forhaze-related conditions.

Our people’s health is of utmostconcern and we must do everything to protect it.