By: 永久浪客/Forever Vagabond
During the National Day Rally last week (21 Aug), PM Lee revealed that Singapore wants to work with Indonesia to tackle trans-boundary haze issue as well as to deal with the companies that are causing it.
He said he meets Indonesian President Jokowi regularly, and added that Jokowi had told him that he is committed to solving the haze problem.
“We have also been discussing enhancing economic cooperation, to encourage Singapore companies to invest more in Indonesia,” said Mr Lee.
He said that he would be having a leaders’ retreat with President Jokowi in Semarang which had been chosen to build an industrial park there. They would be there to open the 2,700 hectare Kendal Industrial Park.
The park is a joint venture between Jakarta-listed industrial estate developer Jababeka and Singapore GLC Sembcorp. Sembcorp itself has many experience in investing and developing industrial parks in the region. The park will be equipped with residential housing, shopping centers and shop houses, a convention center, a golf course and driving range, among other facilities.
President Jokowi is keen to industrialize his country. He aims to boost manufacturing industries that are labor-intensive and have multiplier effects on the economy, which is struggling to meet the government’s 5.2 percent growth target this year.
PM Lee said that the Kendal Industrial Park is “the first major industrial investment by a Singapore company (Sembcorp) outside Batam.”
“mau protes angin?”
Meanwhile, Singapore is hit again by haze on Friday (‘Singapore hit again by haze‘, 26 Aug), triggering a wave of complaints by Singaporeans on social media. This came exactly 5 days after PM Lee talked about the haze issue with Indonesia during the NDR last Sunday.
NEA recorded that at 2pm on Friday, the PSI had hit 215 in a range categorized as “very unhealthy”, especially for young children, the elderly and people with heart and lung diseases.
NEA immediately registered its concerns with its Indonesian counterpart over “additional episodes of deterioration in air quality in Singapore should the fires continue”.
“The NEA urged Indonesia to continue taking the necessary actions to prevent and mitigate the fires during this dry season and asked for an update on the situation in Sumatra and Kalimantan,” NEA said in a statement on Friday.
The air pollution comes from rampant illegal land clearing using fire, which ravages thousands of hectares of forest and quickly spreads a thick smoky haze over the region.
At the same time on Friday, local Indonesian news reported that its Vice President (VP) Jusuf Kalla was not too happy with Singapore’s complaint.
He said that no one wishes to have haze.
“When fire occurs and wind blows to the north, yes (smoke) sure gets to Singapore. No one wants (smoke) to Singapore (Selama kebakaran banyak terjadi dan kemudian angin ke Utara, ya pasti sampai ke Singapura. Tidak ada yang mau (asap) sampai Singapura),” VP Jusuf Kalla said.
“But we cannot control the wind. How to control the wind (Cuma kan kita tidak bisa kontrol angin, bagaimana caranya kontrol angin)?” he asked.
Despite the Indonesian government’s efforts to curb illegal land clearing using fire, it still happens. Earlier it was reported that there were already 67 fires in Riau.
When asked about the protests from Singapore, he replied, “Yes, whatever. Who they want to protest to? Want to protest to the wind (Ya terserah saja, dia mau protes siapa, mau protes angin)?”