Indonesia — The popular local weekly news magazine, Tempo, apparently hitting hard at the Indonesian government, said that if a contest were to be held to find the country producing the most smoke in the world, Indonesia would always come out on top as champion.
“Every year there are forest fires and apparently no proper solution has been found to prevent them from recurring,” it said in an article headlined “Smoking Out the Neighbours”.
An Oct 4-11 poll published in its latest edition showed that 85.07 per cent out of 335 respondents believed that the government had not been serious in dealing with the ongoing haze problem. Only 11.64 per cent thought that it was serious while 3.28 per cent were unsure.
“Forest fires occur every year and the frequency and quality increase each year, always getting worse. The central and regional governments are seemingly getting used to it,” Tempo quoted one of its readers, Suseno M.S, as saying.
The magazine added that almost all of the respondents agreed with Suseno who felt that the government was indeed not serious in handling the problem, despite duly noting that the haze had been infuriating all its neighbours.
What was frightening was that the smoke not only disrupted flight schedules at airports but also increased the number of those who suffered from respiratory infections and stopped school activities, it said.
Tempo said that this year’s fires were the worst since 1997, occurring in Pontianak, Banjarmasin, Jambi and the southern part of Sumatra.
The government seemed at a loss as to how to solve the matter, it noted, quoting Vice-President Jusuf Kalla as saying:
“We hope the rainy season will come soon. Governors and regents have been called and reprimanded, prayers have been said, what else then.”
Culprits of the forest fires have been arrested by the security forces but the result was still a big fat zero, it added.