It was a terrible experience walking the 100M from the LRT station to the office this morning. I have no respiratory problems, and i'm generally a fit fella. But the air "tasted" heavy to me, breathing was laboured, there was a peculiar burnt smell in the air, and my eyes itched after a few minutes. Visibility was down to less than 200M, buildings in the distance, shrouded in a thick soupy grey. The sun was just a small, pathetic orange disc hanging in the sky, with none of the lustre or brilliance we've come to expect. It was almost like something out of a nightmare, but i knew better, this was real life, this was the haze.
Its all in the news, bloggers too are complaining about it (and the lack of perceived action to do something to fix it). I'm incredibly upset about the state of affairs. If something like this happened in a developed nation, the people would be crying bloody murder, a national emergency would be called, and the NGOs would be all over it most likely describing it as a "environmental disaster" (which it is, in my mind).
The Government wants Malaysia to be a developed nation in just a few short years, and yet, our response to this disaster has been absolutely THIRD WORLD. The fact that no one in any ASEAN government even wants to call a spade a spade (i.e. that this is an environmental nightmare), that's a damning verdict on our much vaunted "non-interference...flexible intervention" policies. The haze is an annual environmental catastrophe costing the collective ASEAN governments billions of dollars in lost productivity, lost human resources and lost quality of life. Can you imagine, lets say, if Germany had a similar "slash and burn" policy, thereby causing a similar haze in the EU year after year -- World War 3 would have broken out by now. A simple "sorry" would certainly not be enough to appease the English, the French, the Swiss, the Dutch.
Really, an industrious lawyer who wants to make a name for himself should take this case up: start a class action suit, take the Indonesian government to the ICJ. Get the world opinion behind this case, drag in the mega NGOs like Greenpeace and the WHO. If ASEAN will do nothing about the haze, then we, the citizens must, somehow, by enlisting the help of the rest of the world. Bloggers, we can do our bit too. Don't let this issue slide without blogging it.