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Stop being hazy over suffocating haze

Haze seen thickening in Kuching along Tabuan Jaya Road - Photograph: Vanessa Naen

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Economic gains for political expediency compelled regional governments to abandon the moral obligation to care for human life, writes JD Lovrenciear.

The media in the region and Malaysia need to rise to the occasion.

It seems that the government is doing all it can in the wake of this suffocating haze that has disrupted everyone’s life.

Schools had to be closed. Hospitals are on high alert to treat those especially with asmathic and lung-related problems. Crops are being affected.

It is just that the full impact has not yet been ascertained. Maybe it never will.

The country’s economy suffers too as people avoid going out. Employees call in sick. Flights are delayed.

But why is the government only now hitting the pedal to enforce the ban on open burning?

The haze did not appear all of a sudden. It does not take just a week or a few days of burning to blanket several nations with suspended particles.

And let us not blame it on the winds.

It is also not because some residents in the kampung gathered the leaves in their premises and burned a tiny heap in the evenings to drive away the mosquito menace.

It may not even be because some secret illegal dumpsite was set on fire.

Why is the government so reluctant to admit that the huge swathes of land clearing and burning over a long time is the main cause of the haze blanketing entire nations.

What did the government do in recent past months when these plantations started rampant clearing and burning to save costs, increase profits and find an easy, irresponsible way.

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Was it impossible for the aviation people to disclose or alert the local authorities as they zoom across the skies when vast swathes of land were set on fire?

Let the truth be told no matter how painful it is. The nationwide haze problem is not happening for the first time. The haze has been there for over two decades.

Yet the politicians have no shame in masking the truth and making it look like they are doing something. They wear the mask of a Good Samaritan telling people to buy face masks, drink plenty of water, stay indoors if they must, refrain from burning rubbish and what-not.

We must call a spade a spade. The government has failed miserably in caring for our fragile environment.

Economic gains for political expediency compelled them to abandon the fundamental moral obligation to care for human life.

If it could crack the whip to punish smokers, why can’t the same government, along with its neigbours, put a stop to the mega forest and plantation burning?

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