BY PEH SHING HUEI
THE Workers’ Party (WP) says that the Singapore Government owes it to its citizens to “adopt a greater sense of urgency and firmness” in solving the haze problem.
In a statement signed by party chairman Sylvia Lim, the opposition party yesterday questioned the progress made since the early 1990s when the smoke from forest fires in Indonesia first hit Singapore.
“Singaporeans have been more than patient. Fourteen years on, what progress has been made?” asked Ms Lim, who is also a Non-Constituency Member of Parliament.
She added: “The PSI levels in Singapore continue to reach unhealthy levels, reducing visibility and creating health problems such as respiratory difficulties and eye irritation. Singaporeans have been suffering physical damage, inconvenience and expense for years.”
The problem requires regional commitment to solve, the party said, adding that it hopes that the meeting of Asean environment ministers this weekend in Pekanbaru will not be a futile one.
“While respecting the sovereignty of our neighbour Indonesia, the Singapore Government owes it to Singaporeans to adopt a greater sense of urgency and firmness in working out effective solutions to the haze problem,” said the WP.
It has proposed setting some milestones. These include a timeline for Indonesia to ratify the Asean Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution and a schedule and implementation plan from the Indonesian government on prevention, detection and putting-out of fires.
The WP also said there should be a commitment from the Indonesian government to improve its laws and prosecute those who start forest fires. There should also be contributions from Asean countries, including Singapore, to help Indonesia.
Asked what she thought the Singapore Government should do if the Indonesians could not be persuaded to act, Ms Lim told The Straits Times: “The Asean countries have to discuss and find ways to get Indonesia to comply.”
But she added: “The problem is hard to solve.”