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Haze Chokes Singapore and Malaysia

Air quality in Singapore and West Malaysia hit hazardous levels after forest fires swept neighboring Indonesia.

At 12pm on June 21, 2013 the Air Pollution Index hit 401 in Singapore, the highest in the country’s history. The following two days, it was Malaysia's turn to choke. In the coast town of Muar which is two hundred kilometers away from Singapore, the Air Pollution Index hit 750 on 23 June.

The bad air prompted many Singaporeans to make their way to hospitals and pharmacies to stand in line for face-masks. junjie.wu tweets:

Haze in Singapore. Photo by umiwurnell, Copyright @Demotix (6/20/2013)

Haze in Singapore. Photo by umiwurnell, Copyright @Demotix (6/20/2013)

@bbeautifool People Q for N95, look what I got to spend my weekends being crouch potato. Home the safest place to…

While Brian, Mr. SGAG celebrates finally getting a hold of one on 22 June, after air quality improved!

‏@SGAG_SG Bad Luck Brian. Finally gets his hands on the N95 mask after 5 hours of queueing at the pharmacy. Haze clears. #sghaze

Some though, heeded government advisories to stay home. “I’ve got a tummy” spent the weekend drinking milk and eating bread to feel  better and  stay in to watch TV:

…the worst part of it all is that, we had to still report for work despite the bad to worse weather conditions. As far as I am concerned, I had to still report for work even after the office announce that employees can work from home if work scope permits. So ironically, my work scope is very site-based therefore, I have to be back to office for work that day whatsoever.

But anyways, I fell sick after 3 days of fighting with the haze and till today, my nose is dry yet running at the same time.

A Malay couple wears a face mask while celebrating their wedding day during haze in Muar, in Malaysia’s southern state of Johor bordering Singapore. Photo by Lens Hitam, Copyright @Demotix (6/22/2013)

A Malay couple wears a face mask while celebrating their wedding day during haze in Muar, in Malaysia’s southern state of Johor bordering Singapore. Photo by Lens Hitam, Copyright @Demotix (6/22/2013)

While B.L. Xu thought deep patriotic thoughts about what Singaporeans should be doing for the environment:

I personally think that what most of us should be appreciating is clean air, not the absence of haze caused by them. Instead of pointing fingers at others and trying to solve the root of the problem, it is more important to fully understand and digest the moral of the story

Meanwhile, Patrick Low is supporting a silent protest:

We need to stand up as a people and send a clear signal to Indonesia that we will not tolerate this harmful incursion to our health and economy.

As haze condition is getting hazardous please just pop by wear black, wear mask and bring some water for the short duration you are there.

Respromask – who have a stake in such things – reports that Malaysia has declared a state of emergency in Muar and Ledang. As a precautionary measure, Malaysia has also shut down some of their schools.

But who’s responsible and who should pay? The hunt for culprits has begun. The Singaporean Minister of the Environment called for Indonesia to name names and dole out punishments. In reply, the Coordinating Minister of Peoples’ Welfare in Indonesia chided Singapore for being childish. Singapore’s Emeritus Senior Minister had later hoped that Indonesia would adopt a more neighbourly spirit.

Meanwhile, individual Indonesian citizens are trying to make amends by expressing their concern over the haze.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has already issued a formal apology to Singapore and Malaysia for the haze caused by forest fires in some parts of Indonesia.

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