Singapore– The Government will be taking the lead in the fight against transboundary haze and climate change as a consumer, said Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli on Tuesday (Apr 12).
“Our consumers and consumers all around the world are rightfully indignant when companies here and abroad blatantly violate their health and well-being with unsustainable practices … These actions demonstrate the significant power of a collective consumer voice,” he said.
Mr Masagos said in his ministry’s Committee of Supply debate that the Government will take the lead by procuring only electrical products that have been certified with high energy efficiency. Four electrical items – air conditioners, lamps, televisions and refrigerators – will kickstart the initiative, which will gradually extend to other items, he added.
Additionally, the Government will procure printing paper products that carry the Singapore Green Label – an indication that the supplier practises sustainable forestry management. This will start from the third quarter of this year, he said.
Singapore Environment Council’s head of eco-certification, Kavickumar Muruganathan, said the Government sector is one of the largest purchasers of paper products.
“While we cannot do so much about the forest fires on the ground, we hope that by having a sustainable, green procurement policy, the paper and pulp manufacturers would actually consider manufacturing their paper products in a sustainable manner so that they can retain their market share.”
Legislatively, the country is also doing its part in tackling the transboundary haze issue. Mr Masagos pointed to the Transboundary Haze Pollution Act (THPA) and said the National Environment Agency (NEA) sent Preventive Measures Notices under Section 9 of the Act to six companies based in Indonesia following last year’s haze episodes.
Of the six, two have responded and NEA is corresponding with them and verifying the information provided. Among the four that did not reply, NEA recently served Notices under Sections 10 and 11 of the Act on a foreign director when he was in Singapore, the minister said.
“These Notices require him to provide information and attend an interview in relation to the ongoing investigations. In accordance with the law, we will take what steps we can to enforce the THPA, bearing in mind that outside of Singapore, there are limited possibilities,” he added.
Mr Masagos stressed that even if the errant company’s officers are foreigners, they will have to comply with Singapore’s laws, including under the THPA, should they come to Singapore.