MPs ask govt to do more on haze issue

MPs ask govt to do more on haze issue

22 November 2010

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Singapore —  The return of the haze last month has prompted MPs to ask the government to do more to prevent another occurrence.

For several days in mid-October, Singapore was shrouded with the haze, which at one point reached the unhealthy level.

Speaking in Parliament on Monday, Environment Minister Yaacob Ibrahim said joint efforts with the Indonesian government have reduced the number of hotspots in Jambi and Riau.

Foreign Affairs Minister George Yeo added that ASEAN ministers are also working together on the issue through a ministerial steering committee.

But some MPs pointed out that Indonesia has not yet ratified the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution.

MP for Ang Mo Kio GRC, Lee Bee Wah, said: “They’re dragging their feet. Would the minister take this up to international organisations like WHO (World Health Organisation)?”

MP for Hougang, Low Thia Khiang, said: “Despite the efforts and the minister talking to his counterpart in Indonesia, it seems to me that the haze remains smoky and the situation doesn’t improve.”

Minister George Yeo said: “Diplomatically we certainly hope to be more successful, but there are limits to what we can do.

“It doesn’t mean that (if) we make stronger speeches or internationalise the issue it will necessary help solve this problem.

“It is not just to give emotional satisfaction to our own sense of hurt and grievance.

“Important thing is to be effective and if we can be effective without commotion, all the better. If we need a commotion, we have a commotion. But the key is to be effective.”

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