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Haze Update

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MonsoonMaiden

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Satellite pictures yesterday clearly showed the haze wafting in from Kalimantan.

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ChannelNewsAsia has devoted an entire section to the haze. One viewer sent in this rather nice photo of the moon :

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The haze gave last night's moon an atmospheric orange cast as seen here beside one of the office buildings in the CBD. – Photo from Stuart Clyne

Meanwhile, the problems looks no closer to being solved. Bother these politicians. :rolleyes:

The Straits Times

Oct 17, 2006

Indonesians close ranks

By Indonesia Bureau Chief, Azhar Ghani

JAKARTA - AS EXTERNAL pressure mounts on Indonesia to deal with the haze caused by land-clearing fires, local critics appear to have closed ranks behind the flag. Observers say the turning point seems to have been President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's apology last Wednesday to Singapore and Malaysia for the recurring problem.

Many critics have now fallen back on nationalist arguments, alleging that countries complaining about the haze have also been found wanting when it comes to cross-border issues. The local media, which had earlier lambasted the government for not doing enough to stop the haze from spreading, has shifted its focus to how Jakarta is doing its best to solve the problem.

Observers also note how major dailies are persisting in apportioning some of the blame to Malaysia - allegedly a big buyer of illegal timber from Indonesia - even though State Minister for the Environment Rachmat Witoelar has said that most of the culprits are suspected to be Indonesians.

While there is little new about accusations against Malaysia, Singapore is also now in the dock. Editorials in two dailies say that Singapore expects Indonesia to act fast when something affects the Republic adversely, but dithers when the positions are reversed.

Last Thursday, business daily Bisnis Indonesia's editorial dwelt on the letter that Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had sent Dr Yudhoyono to express his disappointment over the issue. Mr Lee had said that Indonesia's handling of the haze problem could have an effect on investor confidence in the country and on Asean's credibility.

While the editorial acknowledged that Indonesia was in the wrong and suggested that help from others should be accepted, it also said Mr Lee was effectively dictating what Indonesia should be doing. It added that Singapore was not ready to sign an extradition treaty with Indonesia and that the Republic also harboured suspects in corruption cases wanted by Jakarta. Indonesia has, for nearly a decade, been seeking an extradition treaty with Singapore. The prevailing view in Indonesia is that corrupt businessmen and politicians usually hide - and park their assets - in Singapore.

Sunday's editorial in the daily Koran Tempo took a similar line, and suggested that there was nothing wrong in linking the two issues. It said: 'If Singapore says it had no intention of inviting rich Indonesians, especially those with ill-gotten gains, to its shores, we can also say that we did not intend to send the haze there. Blame it on the wind. Yes, this may be childish diplomacy, but who knows, it might just work.'

And Sunday also saw Vice-President Jusuf Kalla saying that countries complaining about the haze should think about the oxygen that Indonesia's forests produce.

International relations analyst Bantarto Bandoro felt that Jakarta's defensive posture was understandable but said that it did not mean the real problem had been forgotten. He said: 'Indonesians will not lose sight of the real issue and won't hold back if they still see that the government has not done much to improve a situation that has made Indonesia look bad.''

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