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.
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.