Singapore is Suffocating


singapore+smogVisibility is poor, and the air is not fit to breath as Singapore is suffocating from its third day of enduring smoke from fires on the Sumatra islands.

Peat swamp fires on Indonesia’s Sumatra islands have caused record air pollution for 5.18 million residents.  Singapore is suffering its worst haze in history. Its main index for air pollution hit a measurement of 401 at midday on Friday, exceeding record highs of 371 on Thursday, and 321 on Wednesday. Those measurements were classified as hazardous and could aggravate respiratory ailments.

Authorities have advised everyone to stay indoors.  Pharmacies quickly ran out of face masks as the stench of burning vegetation permeates the air.

“I don’t know if it’s just my imagination, but even indoors my throat is starting to feel weird,” said business manager Tan Joa-Quim. “I want a mask but my company has a limited supply, which we prioritised for the older and less healthy staff, and a lot of shops have sold out.”

Singapore officials have flown to Jakarta to discuss methods of extinguishing the fires which were probably caused by carelessly discarding cigarettes, and illegal fires set to clear ground space.  This is the ‘dry’ season for the area.

Indonesia’s national disaster management agency said it planned to use two helicopters in a water-bombing operation to assist more than 100 firefighters on the ground.  They also plan to use planes to seed the clouds and induce rain in the next few days.

Some airports in Sumatra have been closed because of poor visibility.  In southern Malaysia, 600 schools have been closed.  The main city, Kuala Lumpur, has not been severely affected.

The blame game has begun.  Officials from Singapore are urging Indonesia’s government to wage an all-out war on the fires.  Indonesia is suggesting that plantation operations by Singapore and Malaysia may be responsible for some the fires.

Singapore,officially the Republic of Singapore, is a Southeast Asian island city-state off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula.  Singapore is the world’s fourth-leading financial center, and its port is one of the five busiest ports in the world.

According to Wikipedia: “Singapore is a unitary multiparty parliamentary republic with a Westminster system of unicameral parliamentary government. The People’s Action Party has won every election since self-government in 1959. Slightly over five million people live in Singapore, of which 2.91 million were born locally. The population is highly diverse; the majority are Chinese with almost 75% of the total population, while Malays and Indians forming significant minorities. Reflecting this diversity, the country has four official languages: English, Malay, Chinese, and Tamil. One of the five founding members of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), the country is also the host of the APEC Secretariat, and a member of the East Asia Summit, the Non-Aligned Movement, and the Commonwealth.”

Singapore has the highest percentage of millionaires in the world.  One out of every six households has a disposable income of at least one million dollars.  It also has one of the highest income inequality levels among developed countries, coming in just behind Hong Kong and in front of the United States.

The people of Singapore are suffocating because of the fires.  There is no estimate as to when they might be under control.

James Turnage

The Guardian Express


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