Smoke gets in our eyes

haze(aerial view of burning in Indonesia– is it that difficult to pinpoint source? )

The common topic nowadays is again the perennial problem of haze.

Year in and year out, as punctual as the durian season, the haze problem surfaces without fail.  Year in and year out, we hear of politicians talking about it. We hear of ministers and officials getting together to find a solution; we hear of Indonesians blaming on Malaysian and Singaporean companies for the slash and burn methods they use to clear land; we hear of denials by the same companies; we hear of the need to establish an Asean initiative to find an end to the problem.

In the end, the haze appears again and again.

The politicians, like the boy who cries wolf, are fast losing credibility;  we the rakyat, like the farmers who initially believed the boy and rushed up the hill, are now skeptical, and are praying to Heaven for rain and to change wind direction to solve this problem.

Many people suffer. Some with certain illnesses will die an early death, even though we cannot quantify the number. While we take individual murder case seriously, these indirect deaths often go unreported, but rest assured, since the haze covers a big area, the impact on lives  is more serious than a single death from murder.

.haze3(view from top of Tropicana Mall Petaling Jaya)

What baffles simple minds like ours is why is it so difficult to catch the culprits who practice slash and burn method? Just charter a small plane and helicopter, and even from  a far you can pinpoint where are the sources and fires. You can then send in the ground people and  arrest or fine those in whose land that the fire rages.

Once a dozen or so are hauled up and punished,  it will serve as a deterrent to others..

Strict enforcement would end this once and for all.. Granted, some natural fires will still occur, but it would not be so widespread, and the fire fighters would not be so short-handed like the current situation. They would have a better chance to douse the natural fires.

Why should a seemingly easy task fail so miserably?

This has all to do with the attitude and corruption level of the ground enforcement. A Tidak Apa attitude coupled with certain kind of  payoffs probably would ensure the local enforcement to close an eye.

This attitude is further strengthened and emboldened by the rebuttals of senior ministers defending the haze.

One minister called on Singaporeans, who were at the brunt of this year’s haze initially,  not to whine like a small kid. Another minister chided Malaysians for not able to share sufferings.

This is typically a sign of what we called “small man syndrome”.  ‘Small’ in this context has nothing to do with the physical height of the person, but rather the mental attitude.

A small man would not like people  criticise him for any failure in which he is responsible. So by acting tough and talking tough, he tries to cover his inadequacies with the tough talk and act.  A leader like this is dangerous, since such person would show no humility and often is ruthless and has no consideration for others.

Unlike these ‘small men’, the President of Indonesia has apologised. He is big enough to acknowledge that Indonesia is responsible for the hazy situation.

But I would rather he puts more effort into solving this problem by going to the ground to get a first hand picture and perhaps organise a presidential task force to specifically hauling up the culprits.

Until then, we can only pray to the God and Heaven and hope for a reversal of wind direction and maybe some rainfall over the burning areas.

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One month after (with update)

UPdated:

Today is one month after the GE. I have not been writing much, not because there is nothing to write but rather, it is because there are too many thing happening and too many things to write. Some times, when there are too many things to write,  you  simply do not know where to start first.

After losing the popular votes, we would think that the government would at least change to try to win back some votes. Alas, nothing much has changed.

Firstly, people are still dying in lock-ups. One of them, Dhamendran, has died under suspicious circumstances. Another died in Tampin lockup recently.

There is now renewed call for instituting IPCMC which was recommended many years ago by a royal commission. Instead,  an Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission was set up, and you know what, it was given an annual budget of 7 millions, to monitor 19 enforcement agencies, according to a report in malaysianinsider.

This works out to be less than Rm400,000 per agency ( less than the amount spent on wedding/dinners given by some big shots) , and that really shows how ‘serious ‘ the government is trying to reform these agencies.  It is like throwing some leftovers  to the dogs when the dogs bark incessantly.

Another predictable happening is politicians are being arrested and hauled up to courts for sedition and organising illegal gatherings.

I would normally applaud these , since laws must be obeyed if we want our country to be a real democratic and law-abiding ones, but then I realise that these prosecutions, like before, is selective, and thus more like that of political persecution. Others with connections, such as a Malay Newspapers and members of Perkasa, are not charged,  giving a perception that there are 2 sets of standards in the country. Again just  like before– nothing changes.

Another thing that has not changed is that government ministers from UMNo are still talking arrogantly.  One has asked people to emigrate if they don’t like the system here. They would do better to be more humble and look within to see why they lost the popular votes, instead of uttering things arrogantly.

I think PM must really show some  leadership to change after getting this mandate, albeit without winning the popular votes;  and address the causes of why BN lost the popular votes, which I have dealt with after 505 in a long article posted in MalaysianInsider, “Why BN lost the urban votes”..

If he tries to appease the right wingers in his party, particular the Old Man, then he will lose more and more votes as the country gets more urbanised, people get more educated and more and more young voters come of age to vote.

So the saying that ” Change or be changed ‘ is still as valid as before ; even this maxim has not changed even when the whole country has gone through another GE..

Thaat is the sad part of the whole thing!

…………………………………………………….

Update:

Latest news has it that the AG is saying that the constables invovled in Dharmendran’s death will be charged with murder.

This comes 13 days after the death and more than 10 days after the post mortem.

If this course of action is taken within the few days when the detainee died, it would have caused the government much less criticism and embarrassment. Now, it gives an impression that  the action is taken only because of  the uproar and the pressure on the government.

That is always the folly of the policy makers. When an action is necessary, no time should be wasted to take that action; failure or delay in taking that particular action will make the people lose confidence— not that there is much confidence left now!!!