The haze is back in Singapore again, and you can bet your bottom dollar that Singaporeans will complain about it.
That’s why Goody Feed is here to give you seven facts about the haze in Singapore, so you don’t sound so sua ku talking about the haze.
1. The Last Southeast Asian Haze Was in 2019
On Saturday (7 October), the air quality in Singapore fell into the unhealthy range, meaning a PSI between 101 and 200, for the first time in four years.
Yes, you read that right. The last Southeast Asian haze was four years ago—all the way back in 2019, before all of COVID-19’s shenanigans.
That’s quite a feat. If you recall, before 2019, the haze was almost like Christmas—an annual event. Instead of snow, we get the haze.
This came with the annual wildfires in Indonesia caused by the dry season. Winds subsequently bring the haze over to the rest of the Southeast Asian region.
What to do? Suck thumb lor.
2. Highest PSI Reading in the East
Since Singaporeans love comparing whether the East or West side is the best, let’s see whether the East or West side takes the cake when it comes to haze conditions.
On Saturday (7 October), as of 11 pm, the 24-hour Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) ranged between 67 and 121, spanning the moderate and unhealthy range.
The highest PSI reading was recorded in the East.
The West might not have as much good food as the East, but one thing’s for sure: at least West-siders are having an easier time breathing.
Perhaps PSI readings should be another factor you consider when you BTO.
3. Hundreds of Hotspots Over Indonesia’s Sumatra Island
According to NEA, hundreds of hotspots were detected over Indonesia’s Sumatra island, where most of the wildfires causing the haze are raging.
While there were only 15 hotspots over the southern and central parts of Sumatra on Wednesday (4 October), this number has since surged to 212 on Friday (6 October).
A faster escalation than arguments with your girlfriend.
The good news is this: the number of hotspots has dropped to 188 on Saturday (7 October).
With any hope, this number will only continue dropping.
4. Haze Conditions are Expected to Improve Soon
If you look out your window now, you might still find it hard to see anything given the haze.
However, all bad things must end, and the haze might be coming to an end sooner than expected.
According to the National Environment Agency (NEA)’s daily haze advisory, haze conditions are expected to improve on Monday (9 October).
You have the rain and a favourable change in wind direction to thank for that.
5. Measures From Singapore’s Haze Task Force
Regardless, we’ll always have Singapore’s haze task force’s measures to fall back on if the haze situation worsens.
Yes, there is a haze task force. If you haven’t noticed the pattern, Singapore loves task forces.
And you can trust that the task force has already gotten to work. Earlier this weekend, the haze task force, consisting of 28 agencies led by the NEA, already rolled out their respective action plans and advisories.
Among others, the Ministry of Health (MOH) is working with healthcare institutions to implement haze preparedness measures to deal with the surge in patients with haze-related conditions.
Of course, this is excellent news, given the surge in patients that clinics are already seeing due to the haze. You can read more about that here.
Preschools have also been equipped with air purifiers, and the Ministry of Education (MOE), working in conjunction with schools, have implemented school continuity plans to cope with the haze.
Does this mean… possible home-based learning again?
Air-conditioned rooms in all Community Centres/Clubs (CCs), alongside selected Residents’ Committee (RC) Centres and Residents’ Network (RN) Centres, will also be on standby if PSI levels go beyond 200.
Huh? Gong simi?
This means that if you really buey tahan the haze, you can seek respite in these air-conditioned rooms. Shiok.
6. What Indonesia Has Done to Reduce the Wildfires
While each Southeast Asian nation has its measures to respond to the haze, the problem can’t be solved unless Indonesia does something about the wildfires.
Otherwise, it goes without saying that Southeast Asia will be a little dulan at Indonesia. As the Malaysian Minister of Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change said: “We cannot keep going back to having haze as something normal.”
Fortunately, the Indonesian president, Joko Widodo, has already called for action. On Saturday (7 October), he urged authorities and the local government to respond quickly to all fires to put them out before they spread.
The Indonesian environment minister, Siti Nurbaya, also shared that the nation has begun dousing forest fires with water and inducing rain through cloudseeding—the usual stuff.
Regardless, the Indonesian environment minister emphasised that the measures taken were not based on Malaysia’s request.
Even with the smell of the haze, you can smell the beef cooking.
7. Singapore’s Investigation of Indonesian Companies Linked to the Haze
But Malaysia is far from the only one with potential “beef” with Indonesia.
Did you know that in 2015, Singapore launched an investigation into four Indonesian companies linked to the haze?
If you didn’t know, in 2014, Singapore enacted the Transboundary Haze Pollution Act, which makes it an offence to cause or contribute to haze pollution in Singapore.
The 2015 investigation was carried out under this act.
While Indonesia took offence to the investigation and initially refused to cooperate, the nation eventually decided to cooperate with Singapore’s investigation, provided that the investigation did not violate Indonesia’s sovereignty or international law.
So, what’s your take? Do you think Singapore will launch another investigation this time, given the haze’s comeback?