Why need an enemy when you have such a neighbour?

OhTongKeong 20151010 Haze BIPenang Gerakan Secretary Oh Tong Keong:

Every year, our country will have a period of time when our blue skies are covered with haze, which affects our people’s health.

The Chinese phrase “Why need an enemy when you have such a neighbour” best describes the relationship between Indonesia and our country.

When the annual haze strikes, it usually lasts for a few days or a week. But this time it is particularly serious, as it is much longer. One of the reasons is the Mujigae typhoon near the Hainan Island of China which has strengthened the wind in Southeast Asia, bringing more haze from Kalimantan and Sumatra into our country.

Bad haze has caused many to fall sick. Malaysia has repeatedly urged Indonesia to look into forests burning for the past many years, yet the problem persists. We tend to believe that Indonesia is not sincere, as well as incapable of solving this perennial problem.

When Jokowi was elected Indonesian president more than 2 years ago, then Pakatan Rakyat leaders praised this Indonesian president, even calling him as Indonesia’s Obama. But 2 years have passed this so-called Indonesian Obama is not only unable to solve the haze problem, but letting it becoming worse.

What is more laughable is that Indonesia which is unable to solve the haze problem, has even refused Singapore’s offer to help fight the forest fire. Refusing help when you can’t solve the problem is ego yet incapable.

Our foreign affairs ministry has been working very hard to get Indonesia to solve the haze problem. Indonesia has also agreed to solve the problem in 3 years but I think this effort is insufficient.

I think our government should give Indonesia a stern warning and that we will follow up the issue if they don’t solve the problem. Our government should consider cooperating with other countries affected by haze, including Singapore, to put more pressure on Indonesia. I believe Indonesia will proactively solve the problem if Southeast Asia countries are united in pressuring Indonesia.

During haze season, the local councils in various states should also strengthen their enforcement on open burning. Unfortunately, some people are still doing open burning in Penang, with any action by Penang’s local councils.

These small groups of people showed low public awareness by doing open burning for their own conveniences. This also showed us that the DAP-led state government which has ruled the state for the past seven years had failed miserably in enhancing public awareness and education work. Rules are not strictly enforced: leading to open burning that affects public health. It is regretted that the state government only enforced on illegal parking of vehicles but not on open burning.

Local councils should strictly enforce rules while educating the public against open burning, to improve public awareness. Reminding people to drink more water and reducing outdoor activities are also supposed to be among the duties of local councils.

People and government should work together to go through this difficult time.

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