Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Art Of Throwing Smoke

He was silent when the freedom of the internet was threatened by the likes of Yaacob Ibrahim.  He was just as quiet when the number of dengue cases crept past the 10,000 mark. He did not chime in when Vivian Balakrishnan waded into the hawker center scaffolding dissertation. So what keeps our prime minister awake at nights? Nobody would have guessed it was the beautiful view of the skyline from the Istana's manicured lawn, a sight none of us will ever get to see at the crack of dawn. Lee posted a Facebook photo of the haze taken at the Istana, commenting: "The city in the distance is barely visible. We are all affected by the haze."

At stake, of course, are the tourist arrivals, who had not planned to travel all the way to see the Merlion engulfed in smoke. Said national icon is permitted to spit 24/7 to its heart's content, but smoking is strictly prohibited. Some laws are simply not allowed to be applied with a light touch. Too bad the peasants have to put up with watery eyes, and coughing fits.

Instead of dialling up President of Indonesia Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono direct - and remind him how little he is paid for running a country of 247,496,843 people - Lee deputised Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan and Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam to call their Indonesian counterparts to register Singapore's "serious concerns" about the situation and to offer help to fight the fires there. Someone expressed hope that the experts can get together soon to compare notes on "what's happening and where, and what's being done." Every schoolboy in Singapore knows what's happening (farmers burning crops), where (Sumatra and akan datang, Kalimantan) and what's being done (zilch).

Balakrishnan, fresh from calling the Aljunied town council to name cleaning contractors, said in his own Facebook account that he asked Indonesian Minister Balthasar Kambuaya to name the companies responsible for the fires there causing the haze. For a guy who flopped at floods, danced around with dengue, the only thing he knows about clearing the haze is, as expected, pointing fingers at someone else.

The Asean Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution was signed in 2002, but Indonesia has yet to ratify it. Also not ratified is the extradition treaty with Indonesia, signed in 2007, because their House of Representatives refused to approve both the treaty and the defense agreement as a package. Indonesia's House Speaker Marzuki Alie had complained loudly about Singapore's request to be allowed to conduct military training within Indonesian territory in exchange for the extradition treaty. While the politicians quibble, the fires of Sumatra rage on.


  1. More than 20 years now, this burning issue continues.
    You were right, everyone knows this since high school.
    What can Vivian achieve that his predecessors Yeo Cheong Tong, Yaacob or George Yeo all can't?
    Mind you, these are "elite leaders" of the world here, and we are only talking about a handful in this part. They couldn't even agree among their own code of conduct, what credibility do they have to ask the billions of internet users or citizens to abide a set code of conduct?
    Utter useless.

    1. Sick n Tired6/19/2013 12:22 PM

      Same goes to Shanmugam.

      Here's just few of what the Indonesians have in their #101 tricks

      - It's the El Nino that cause the spread
      - It's the small farmers that slash and burn
      - It's interfering in our domestic affairs
      - It's too large an area to know who are the fire culprits
      - It's SG/M'sia investing companies that have a part in it
      - It's the tycoons who are friends of President and Govt elites, can't touch them
      - It's the season lah lah lah lah lah, lah lah lah lah

    2. you forgot to add. they now claim to be the biggest supplier of air to singaporeans for the rest of the year.

      wah lau eh. methinks NEA can start working on newhotair like newater maybe?

  2. Why VB never tell his counterparts to clean up his acts, apologize to us, then he will have coffee with them in the plantation for inspection?

    1. This VB only knows how to bully Singaporeans. Forget about him doing the right thing. He only know how to wayang. He shouldn't have entered the cabinet through the backdoor in the first place.

    2. All Vivian needs is to ask his paymaster to pick up phone to his wife who runs the largest reserve company in the world. Tell her to supply the list of timber companies who they partially own, and have a stake in burning and slashing forest. Is much quicker that way.

    3. Mr Shan already denied that any sayings about Temasek companies being involved are untrue. While others say Kuok brothers have a part in it. Georgie, withered trees?

      But kudos to Irene Ng for taking a strong and tough stand. I am behind her for the full exposure and transparency, keep going. Time to see what PM Lee is made his father? All economics and money talks?

  3. Statistics showed that GP visits would rise up to 30%, causing us to incur unnecessary healthcare cost. Plus roaring business pharmacies are making from eye drops, mask etc.

    Someone ought to tell Mr Susilo to bear part of the cost as his haze business is interfering into our domestic business!

  4. // We are all affected by the haze.//

    Ironic. His lungs are filled with fresh Fuji air.

  5. LHL can now tell new jokes to the US. “Singapore residents joke that to get a free smoke all they have to do is open their windows!”

  6. Enjoy every moment our politicians naivety when dealing with politicians of other nations.

    They cannot use their well oiled machinery to bully, threaten or even make sweeping, condescending statements.

    That skill is reserved for our citizens only.
    I think they have their match

    1. Well well, echoes of remarks made by our ministers to us. The region has learnt very well. The ST has done its work at spreading the message.

      While I am happy to criticise Ah Loong and his respective ministers for the new Internet rules and the dengue problem, and esp the AIM and AHPTC affairs, I hesitate to lambast the fellow for his haze posting.

      The bottom line is the region dislikes Spore because of its constant criticism of them, its perpetual preening of how good we are in comparison to them (and this includes ALL the Sporeans who go abroad and sneer and boast about how wonderful we are and how awful others are), its arrogance, and its refusal to meet others halfway. If we were nicer to them, they would be nicer to us. Humility has its rewards.

      This has been said umpteen times before: If the govt wants change, it will have to change. In this case, it needs to play hardball with the Spore plantation companies about slash and burn, rather than continue tip-toeing round them.

      Meanwhile, we need to be standing up for this idiot govt. We can hantam them hard after this and in 2016.

    2. I am prepared to stand up for this govt, but are they prepared to stand up against the corporate culprits?

      We need to smoke them out, other than just asking me to pray for rain!

  7. Bala jinx starts all over again.

    He ran YOG, the budget went off by 270%
    He runs Dengue, it went up by 200% -- now officially 10386.
    He runs Haze, is now PSI 155. Will bust by another 200% or not huh?!!?

    1. Lol'd so hard.

      Why not.

      Riau PSI = 341

      Maybe gd training for sinkies lah to know what tear gas canister attack is like. hahaha

  8. Great post!!
    BTW, pls catch the latest idiotic comment by Shanmugam here :

    1. Actually, i feel very embarrassed.
      ok lah, don't say we singaporeans are not constructive.
      All you have to do is go ask our richly-funded @star agency to reinvent it for another patent-right. But you must first declare a motto into our national constitution just like google that says "thou shall not charge its citizens" before you have our approval to proceed.

      There, spoonfed.

  9. The inability to find the fire starters may itself just be so much metaphorical smoke. Even when the companies have been identified by name, nothing happens because these companies have very strong links with govt.
    During the previous prolonged haze in1997, 176 companies were publicly identified as violators. Only 5 were brought to court. One was found guilty. In Indo, half of the plantations are owned by pte companies, which are often part of large conglomerates; the remainder are owned either by state (17 %) or by smallholders (33%). All boils down to patronage politics.

    They want the plant and it doesn't matter if the company is punished or not. It's the returns. The lure of a lucrative crop is cause for these governments to turn a blind eye. Only way is for consumers to boycott them. You can start with Wilmar, Salim Group, First Resources, Sime Darby etc. So let's see how their corporate comms people will say they practice sound sustainability actions.

  10. Actually yes, i like to see how Bala and Irene will take on the tycoons.
    Game on, name them.
    Then I will do my part to boycott their products.

  11. The Blame Game begins...just "register" their complaints with each other, and then do usual.

  12. i won't be surprised if the companies are all $2 companies


    Too good not to share.

  14. The view is from the Istana, the office of LSL. The Lee family stay in a luxury mansion off Cluny Road, built on land apportioned to LKY in the height of his power. Who dared to query him? Except God Keng Swee and look what happened to him. Let LSL really give us a view from his private residence.

  15. Ratify the extradition treaty? Have you ever heard of turkeys voting for Christmas? Neither the Indon parliamnetarians selling their vote to the money laundering tycoons, nor your red dot ministers who treasure so much the goose laying all the golden eggs of billions of laundered money, would want the treaty ratified. And yes, "we are all affected by the haze", except that at the Istana and most VVIP offices, they have an army of NS boys manning the battery of air filters drawn from the chemical defence inventory to keep their offices at healthy PSI levels while we head towards the magical 220 level! Why does haze alwasy coincide with financial crises? 1997, 2007 and now.... (ok just ignore the last sentance)

  16. Nothing Strengthens Authority So Much As Silence
    Da Vinci's Demons

  17. I hope tsunami next...6/19/2013 4:32 PM


    Ha! Ha!...4.5 million? boycott??

    China consumes billions of tons of cooking oil from them and so does USA and Japan.. Singapore is simply snot.

    There is nothing, absolutely zilch that red dot can do.. send in SAF?? Ha! Ha! ha!...
    Get UN to pass sanctions?? Ha! ha! ha!
    Get KL to gang up on them??... even more ha! ha! ha!

    Enjoy the heat, and the aroma of organic combustion... lovely outback smells.. just like South Africa's braaii...

    Anyway, these are the only excitement you'll get other than speeding Ferraris and hawker centre brawls.

  18. So many years already, yet the Foreign Ministry is both hopeless & helpless. So pray tell us what exactly has the PM & his Foreign Minister done to alleviate this annual problem ?

    Don't tell us there is nothing they can do ?

    1. Such suck it up.

      On the upside, Adidas is matching the # of free gym passes with the PSI index. Wow, this is the only time you wish it goes higher so more gym passes are given out leh!!

      But, whatever you do, don't buy Kit Kat from Nestle. They are one of the biggest Consumer goods company that helps in deforestation. So when you want to give yourself a break, remember to give your lungs a break!

  19. The PM and his Ministers can do ONE thing, for sure.

    Continue drawing their million dollars salaries!

    1. PUB can do something lah. Give $20 off from utility bill becoz of air-con or air-purifier usage at home increase?

      MFA should repatriate the Indo Emissary back home for one month to breathe in the 'better air' over there, before he's allowed to come back when this whole thing is blown over. That way, he can learn about the value of fresh air here, and since the people there didn't care that much, according to him. So he must be one of them too. Let's oblige him with his 'bad air supply' until they acquisce.

  20. Isn't it sad that the problem is recurring years after years?

    And they claimed that they are the best?


    After Turkey protests, now is Brazil discontent against bus hikes.
    Unlike us, we remain consistently stoic despite the recurring haze and bus hikes, and quality of lives here.
    Come to think of it, our sadistic Ministers and Leaders must be very lucky to have such masochistic citizens. Or will that lasts?

  22. Lets invite SBY and the rest of the Indonesian congress over for high tea on the lawn of the Istana
    .. enjoy the view and chat about the good old days.

    Free, all expense paid with outdoor camping.Great photo op too.

  23. PSI 290! Family, colleagues and neighbours, all with hurtful eyes and nose, suffering.

    Everybody is staying indoor. Calling for home delivery. Pity the food delivery guys. Hope all the outdoor cleaners take a few days off until Friday, if the cloud seeding works even at all. No point getting that cheap $60 pay increase from NTUC but pay them all to the doctors.

  24. Even Malaysia's Pm flew to Indonesia. At least it is better than looking through the window and Just talk cock in his facebook

    1. Chinese President Xi can call our goodfornothing PM and ask him if it's true everyone in SinCity can now enjoy a free smoke just by opening their windows.
      I cannot help wondering what it will be like should the Indonesians decide to smoke us with ganja or marijuana, especially with one father and son in mind......known to be managing billions for wealthy Indonesians.

  25. Has anyone considered cancelling a few F35s ordered and invest in a fleet of water bombing aircraft which would probably be cheaper to operate. Granted the top gun pilots would lose bragging rights fying water bombing planes instead of state of the art fighters. I think the water bombing planes will be more beneficial to the nation than a squadron of spanking new F35s. Do our penis envy politicians have the balls for bold decisions like that?

  26. U forgot to mentioned ViVi silly reaction to SARS ..and called for culling
    of all stray cats