By Leong Sze Hian


I refer to the article “S’pore-funded efforts to fight haze face challenges on ground” (Straits Times, Jul 1).

Project 5 years ago – no follow-up?

It states that “But the activist, whose non- governmental organisation has also formed a team of volunteers who help in fire alerts across villages in Muaro Jambi, suggests that Singapore should conduct follow-ups to its programmes.

“I have not heard of more programmes since the initial phase,” he said. “If this is aimed at changing mindsets, such efforts cannot stop at just workshops or short programmes. There has to be a sustained commitment of several years for there to be meaningful impact.”


Still waiting for approval after how many years? 

Asked about this, the MEWR spokesman said the ministry was awaiting approval from the Indonesian government for the next phase of its collaborative project with Jambi.


No details, but “successful”?

The spokesman gave no details about potential new projects, but characterised the joint efforts to date as “successful”.

Since it was about 5 years ago – “In 2008, Singapore Delft Water Alliance, Singapore’s National Environment Agency (NEA) and Jambi University also joined hands to organise two technical workshops and seminars to train local farmers about how to better manage the peatlands” – I find MEWR’s “the ministry was awaiting approval from the Indonesian government for the next phase of its collaborative project with Jambi” – somewhat puzzling.

Does it mean that we have been waiting for 5 years for approval of the next phase of its collaborative project with Jambi”?

When did we start to seek approval for “next phase of its collaborative project with Jambi”? 1, 2, or 5 years ago?


This type of answer, might as well don’t open mouth?

In respect of “The spokesman gave no details about potential new projects” – what kind of answer is this? Don’t have any new projects – don’t have follow-up on the projects so far – don’t have details – don’t have plans – or simply never thought about it – or what?


2 “white elephant” towers?

As to “Two towers that monitor the air and weather stand as reminders of the commitment made by Singapore to help Indonesia curb the forest fires that cause the haze.

But the equipment, in Jambi and nearby Muaro Jambi regency, is no longer in use as what the Straits Times learnt during a visit to the area last week.

Officials here said they stopped operating the two monitoring stations after the tape used to record data ran out some time last year and was not replenished. Singapore’s Government donated the equipment to Indonesia in 2009.

The comments by Mr Asrofi, an official with Jambi’s Environment Ministry, spoke volumes about the challenges faced by foreign-funded projects aimed at helping to curb the haze.

He said: “The station ran out of material for recording, which is very expensive to replace. Even if we did (have the recording material), we don’t want to touch it because we fear we could damage the sensitive equipment” –

How did we end up having such a project with no follow-up to ensure or help or at least know that the 2 monitoring towers are idling as white elephants?

Did we consult the Indonesians before we built them? How much money was spent and possibly wasted on this project?


So now that we know – what now?

What are we going to do about it, now that we know that they can’t afford the funds or materials to continue operating the towers? – A deafening silence!


Never ever action?

Why wasn’t there any follow-up action (never ever action!) to discover that the towers are unused, until it was now discovered by the journalists who visited Indonesia to do this “how Singapore helped the Indonesians on the haze” story?

With regard to “What then of other projects that were identified for Jambi?

Singapore’s efforts to encourage farmers in Jambi to turn to fisheries – so that they would be less likely to resort to burning to clear land for cultivation – do not appear to have worked.

There had been great hopes for an “aqua-culture” project, one of many environmental programmes initiated in Jambi under a two- year, $1 million collaboration that Singapore and Indonesia signed in late 2007.

But The Straits Times was unable to find any new fish farms in Jambi that were associated with the programme.

“There was much interest in this,” said a spokesman for Singapore’s Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR) in an e-mailed response.

“But the aqua-culture project did not manage to take off due to lack of infrastructural support for the export of the produce”


“Successful” or all failed miserably?

– the remarks “The spokesman gave no details about potential new projects, but characterised the joint efforts to date as “successful” – may perhaps be best characterised as “talking rots” – as the entire very long article on how our projects to help the “haze” problem, have apparently all failed miserably.

Now “never ever admit” also?

Nobody succeeds all the time – there will always be failures – but if we pretend that everything in “successful” that flies in the face of reality – how and when will we ever learn from our mistakes? – Never ever accurate and now “never ever admit” also!

Finally, we should not be distracted by the above – let’s get back to the major issues of


Got haze national emergency crisis plan or not?

Was or wasn’t there a national haze emergency crisis plan?

If there was indeed one, how come nobody knows about it or have made it public? Why is practically every Ministry scrambling to come up with its own haze plan only now? (“Schools not taking haze for granted, My Paper, Jul 2)

Shouldn’t there be one national co-ordinated plan?

Tan ku ku(Wait long long)!

Why did it take about apparently 60 hours to get the stockpiled face masks to the retailers (from the time the PSI hit 321 on 19 June 10 pm)? If our PSI had gone as high as 700 like in Malaysia – the consequences may be unimaginable!

Cut Thru the Haze?

You should answer the above VIP (very important) questions in your E101 Cut Thru the Haze, instead of focusing and spending so much of your time and effort quarreling with bloggers about all sorts of trivialities and minor (not very important) questions! (There will always be rumours and disinformation during times of emergency and crisis – which may not just be confined to the internet) (MEWR’s reply “Multi-pronged effort on haze communication”, Straits Times, Jul 2)

N95 video – Since when?

By the way, when was the “A video on the correct way to wear the N95 mask was also produced and aired on TV during prime time in four languages” produced and when did we start airing it?

Was it ever shown in the last 16 years of the haze?


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