Indonesia — If you checked in on me at my last posting, you would have found me in an officially declared funk and that was at the beginnning of what had promised to be a glorious 5 day long weekend in Malaysia on account of the Hindu festival of Diwali and the muslim festival of Eid. Well, far from being the long anticipated break with which to spend top quality time with friends and family and to hone one’s blog writing skills, I instead achieved a rare state of being – that of being in a funk, in the middle of a haze and under the weather. That’s my long way of telling you that I have been ill and that I make a grumpy, irritable and irritating patient.
I have been coughing for weeks because of the haze from those peat fires in Indonesia which is just blanketing parts of South East Asia. Although it was only a dry cough, it weakened my immunity and probably made me susceptible to a flu bug that was conveniently hiding amongst one of the sweet, innocent, smiling children in my friends’ big broods. Sweet, innocent, smiling children are really the world’s best bio-terrorists as they are able to catch with ease the newest germ out in the market and pass it on as quickly. Tag. You’re it.
So with a sniffling nose and weepy eyes and a loud hacking cough, and while still delirious because of fever, I read in the local newspaper with great disdain that Indonesia’s parliament was not going to agree to Indonesia signing an ASEAN Regional Transboundary Haze Agreement. They decided to try to use their haze creating fires as some sort of bargaining chips for concessions on trade and fisheries with the neighbouring countries. Imagine having a neighbour who wants the rest of the neighbourhood to pay him to get rid of his health threatening bad habits. What are these politicians thinking? How can any one seem to find any benefit from keeping this choking haze around?
When the world faced the possibility of nuclear annihiliation because of the struttings of the USA and Russia, I was deeply comforted by the song by Sting which said “the Russians love their chidren too” and which implied no one was mad enough to condemn their future generations to the horrors of nuclear fallout. Sadly, I do not see such similar stirrings of the heart amongst the Indonesian Parliamentarians who are holding in their hands the fate of millions of Indonesians and other Asians condemning them to further exposure to toxic smoke so that they can bargain their gasps for fresh air for business and trade concessions. Shame on you.
“You let me down, Indonesia. Your peatland and forest’s on fire High toll on wildlife and on your people but still your leaders, they want to quibble”
“You let me down, Indonesia. You do not care for your neighbours That much is clear, but yet we had hoped that for the children, you’d stop the smoke.” (to be sung to the tune of “Don’t cry for me, Argentina.”)