Friday, 21 June 2013

What our leaders CAN do about the haze!

Update: My reply to most of your comments (published or unpublished) has been posted here.

As I start this blog post, the PSI is presently at 292. I suppose I should be thankful this is merely 'very unhealthy' compared to the hazardous, record-breaking 371 at 1pm this afternoon. Last night when it breached 200 (from 190 to 299 in less than one hour), the nation went into state of shock. By this afternoon, it has breached 300. Will the PSI go any higher than the ridiculous 371? What exactly is Singapore's "haze action plan"? What is going to happen if the haze persists for many more days? Weeks? Months? What's going to happen when school re-opens in 10 days' time?


What is the haze action plan? Is there one?

During this national crisis, some Singaporeans made jokes and create 9GAG memes about the haze. Some sealed themselves indoors as if we are having a zombie outbreak. Some go into a frenzy buying N95 masks and air purifiers. Everyone goes into a tirade of complains. A majority carry on working as per normal because work has not been stopped.

Is it just me, or has it not yet dawned on our nation and our nation's leaders that we are at this very moment experiencing a national crisis? Have my fellow Singaporeans realized that having PSI 371 is more than a hundred times worse than the SARS outbreak of 2003? SARS can be traced, contained and quarantined. In 2003, SARS in Singapore was spread to 238 people out of which 33 people died. At this very moment, this 'hazardous' haze is affecting more than 5 million people in Singapore and God knows how many asthmatics, elderly and children are suffering in the hospitals and at home, gasping for their dear lives. 

At the end of the day, how can we quarantine ourselves from the air we breathe? Stop breathing???

Yes, I do blame the irresponsible companies  in Indoland who have started the fires because it is the most convenient way to clear the land. I find it equally ridiculous that THEY are blaming us for the haze. I also count ourselves extremely unlucky that there is no rain and the winds are bringing the haze directly to us. 

But more than that, I blame OUR government for NOT taking IMMEDIATE, DECISIVE actions to manage the crisis and alleviate the suffering of the populace. Right now and over the last few days, while we are breathing the smog and gasping through the masks (if you managed to get any, that is), our PM has written a letter to the Indonesian authorities, held a couple of press conferences, arranged for a new committee to look into the haze matter and asked us to remain calm.

HELLO? Am I the only one who thinks that A LOT MORE can be done and done AT ONCE?

WHAT CAN BE DONE?

1. Import and issue N95 masks for FREE, IMMEDIATELY. 

If you haven't noticed, virtually the entire nation has run out of N95 masks and the majority of the people on the streets are not wearing masks because they are not able to purchase them anywhere

The government can and should mobilize the civil service and the grassroots committees to issue N95 masks to all, starting with those working in the medical industry and those in other essential services. At the very least, EASE the suffering and CONTROL the chronic and hazardous effects of the haze FIRST.


Logically, people who queue for Hello Kitty in PSI 200 and above must be immune the haze. However, most of us aren't.


How much can these masks cost to the wealthiest nation in the region and to the highest paid government in the world? Or perhaps you can sell it to the populace at cost? Surely, you are not looking to profit when your people are literally, dying?

If cost is NOT a factor, then WHAT IS STOPPING YOU? Why haven't you acted when the PSI reached 100 but waited for it to surpass 300? Every minute in delay means an additional minute for more than 5 million people to continue suffering needlessly!

2. Educate the People! Inform!

Put up notices in the papers. Make infomercials on TV. Post it on NEA/ MOH websites. Post it on YouTube and make it viral. Make information widely and easily available to all. Inform people in detail about what the effects of the haze. Tell everyone how the PSI is derived and how the scale (moderate/hazardous) comes about. Tell people what they are breathing - what exactly are these particles we see in the air and the chemical components of this damn haze? Get doctors to suggest ways to help everyone alleviate the itchy skin, persistent cough, sore throat and stinging eyes. 

How hard can it be to make this happen, and happen ASAP? Please don't just talk about "setting up committees" and "coordinating efforts"! MAKE IT HAPPEN! 

This is the only helpful national haze info I have come across at the moment.  Surely more can be done?.


3. Determine EXACTLY WHEN a stop-work order should be issued.

"Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Thursday afternoon that there was 'no hard line' for when a stop-work order should be issued and that the decision to stop work would also depend on what kind of work it was." - Yahoo News

If HAZARDOUS PSI is not serious enough, what is? Is it when a worker finally collapses and dies of respiratory issues? Is it when the hospitals are completely full and there are long queues at clinics? Please, I urge our leaders to be decisive about this ASAP. Please let the people know EXACTLY AT WHAT POINT you will determine the situation serious enough to issue a nation-wide stop work order. Base this decision with a focus on the safety of your workers, especially those in doing manual labour in an outdoors environment. Show your people that the economy can take a back seat at this moment during a national crisis. What good is wealth when your health is at stake?

4. Finally, SHOW that the people are THE priority. Not money. Not at this time.


A picture paints a thousand words.


There are countless ways to show the people you care. Below are just a few suggestions.

  • As mentioned above, give FREE masks. Or at the very least, sell them at cost.
  • Set up public Mask Distribution Centres. Stock up pharmacies such as Guardian and Watsons and get them to help distribute as well.
  • Set up temporary clinics if need be and provide highly subsidized or free medical care, especially for those who need it immediately. There are plenty of poor, elderly and sick people who are enduring the smog because they cannot afford medical treatment.
  • Provide online channels for people to make health queries and haze-related queries on the NEA website (besides simply displaying the value of the 3 hr PSI and a note that the weather is hazy.) Display these FAQs on the NEA website and provide directions to Mask Distribution Centres, as well as availability of masks at the respective centres.
  • Provide 24hr hotlines for people (especially the elderly who do not use computers/understand English) to answer haze-related health queries. Publicize the hotlines on the NEA/MOH website for people to inform their elderly. Post it on all local TV channels, especially during prime time.

NOW is the time and this is a golden opportunity for our leaders to prove to their electorate that they are competent in managing a crisis. Yes, by all means, continue to tackle the root of the problem in Indonesia and applying pressure on them diplomatically. Yes, by all means, boycott the companies responsible for this. However, as you look at Foreign Affairs, don't forget Home Affairs. Plainly, having lots of meetings, setting up committees (to have more meetings), publishing plainly obvious information on the NEA website and writing letters to Indonesian officials is simply NOT ENOUGH. Please act NOW!

The NEA website features a visit to the landfill. It also tells me the weather is HAZY. YOU DON'T SAY??

Fellow Singaporeans, if you care, do share this post. Better late than never. Maybe there's a chance it will reach the correct channels. I wrote this, wheezing away, because I care and I believe something CAN be done about our predicament NOW. 

- A Neurotic Singaporean.

P/S: I would like to acknowledge and thank some of my readers, friends and relatives on facebook for contributing to the above ideas. This post is a collation of many ideas and suggestions made by others, especially my cousin, Mr X. I cannot claim credit for the ideas listed and they are not rocket science anyway.

55 comments:

  1. Hi - Interesting ideas! I feel your pain and anguish having lived in Singapore for about a year in 2005-2006. Hope you get enough of the masks immediately and pray that the haze issue is sorted out by the countries across the region.
    Best
    SG

    PS: Pardon my ignorance, what and where exactly is the 'Singapore heartland'?

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    1. Heartland simply means Residential Suburbs :D

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  2. Hi Shaq thanks for your comment. I believe I didn't mention a "Singapore heartland" in my post. The heartlands refer mainly to the residential estates I suppose.

    You are fortunate not to be physically here to breathe in this thick smog laden with particles of wood and ash... Some of my friends describe it as 'a smell of hell'. I didn't get any N95 masks and there are none publicly/easily available to buy. Hence the frustration.

    Take care and stay away! :)

    Best, A

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    1. Mount E is distributing free. You can get it at the hospital right now.

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  3. The 24hr mean PM2.5 particle reading as of now is 217-278µg/m^3. It has already hit the last entry in the health advisory for PM2.5 that says "avoid all physical activity outdoors". There is no health advisory for PM2.5 >250µg/m^3.

    I don't understand why they are still using 3hr PSI based on PM10 for decision making.

    http://app2.nea.gov.sg/anti-pollution-radiation-protection/air-pollution/faqs-on-the-haze

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    1. Thanks Devil for your comment.

      It's quite apparent then that the govt was completely unprepared for this, and to make matters worse, are not doing anything actively NOW to alleviate the suffering of the people, while continuing diplomatic conferences.

      As for your comment on the scale, I guess metaphorically they thought a lab thermometer was enough to measure the temperature of hot lava. While NEA is scrambling with the measurements, I'm asking when there will be cold water available for the scalded people.

      -A

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    2. To add, a lot of people don't seem to understand the seriousness of the 24hr PM2.5 reading and are bothering themselves with the 3hr PSI based on PM10 because that is what the news focus on. The PM2.5 particles are not only more dangerous but also harder to block with masks than PM10 particles.

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  4. Agree the Govt shall have done better, they shall have a concrete guidelines before the haze worsen and not only start forming a special committee when the PSI hit unhealthy level

    But it will be hard to issue a nation-wide stop work order. For one who is going to clear our rubbish which will lead to more health problem. Cleaners will then complain why a double standard on them, why they not given the option to stop work

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    1. Hi Anon,

      They are paid to make these decisions. Of course these decisions are not 'easy'!! We cannot make excuses for the highest paid cabinet in the WORLD!

      If cannot stop ALL work at the very least make the masks available to those who need them to continue working, right? Go to any watsons or guardian right now and I guarantee you won't find any masks. Go to any construction site now and I guarantee most are not issued masks.

      THAT is why my blood is boiling.

      -A

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  5. Please see the sub-title of your blog, which I believe appears on every page of your blog. It clearly states that you are from the Singapore heartland, which is helpful in case that wasn't already clear from your views and writing style.

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    1. Ah I see, thanks. That intro portion was written by S.

      But yeah, we do come from the heartlands. At psi 300++ now, I literally cannot see beyond 300m of anything.

      Delete
  6. Hi.. I'm also a Singaporean who will get away(migrate) when the time is right, anyway I have already for myself a landed property out of sg.. I would like to point out a few factors though which I saw through your post.

    1.) That is giving away free masks, that won't happen because. Let's say there's 5m ppl in sg, if a single soul need 2 mask a day, that will tally up to 10m mask to get given out per day. Been a singaoorean for 26 years, it's hard for our government to do something like this. And as a matter of fact, it won't happen. with singaporeans market strategy, the mask may hit a new high record price of $10 per piece too at a time like this. even if the mask is $1 each and $5million have to spent everyday to maintain the mask for distribution, what will happen if it stays for weeks? 1 week 35m? And after the money is spent, sSingaporeans will gaggle our government about annual budget/economy issues?

    2.) Money. You are telling our prime minister to forget about his favourite pastime now? About earning money? It won't happen either. Sometimes, somethings are easier said than done. I presume you are in the working portion of our economy. I have alot of friends who are in the working portion too and everybody is hoping for a stop work order etc. From what I can say, its not that easy. And it will only happen if the company says "every staff will have to go on unpaid leave". Will u be happy about the unpaid leave scheme? If in everybody's mind is so simple like "aiya, company close for a few days won't bankrupt one lah ", then what will happened if the haze is like what u said to be in weeks and months form?? All the companies,factories,retails have to close and rest till the haze clears? Who pays for the companies expenditure and losses for not functioning? Who pays the factories for the workers salary? Who pays the rent for retails and sales companies? If everybody goes by the stop work order, the economy will again collapse and hence an outbreak of retrenchment again. And what? We have to blame or hope for the government to help again? when i was in the working portion, i think likewise as everybody. Needs a stop order and stuffs. Maybe the times passed and my brains were more knowledged now that i managed to know some facts about economy.

    3.) The danger part. I strongly believe as a singaporean, my fellow Singaporeans will know how to protect themselves in the most rightful manner. Don't forget Singapore is being named for "kiasee ".. from young every singaporean is well trained in this field. Like for eg. getting mask, staying indoors and stuffs. As a matter of fact, what more can everybody do? Should everybody stop doing groceries? Stop work? Stop doing laundry because cannot get the clothes to dry outdoors and the reason is cannot open windows?

    4.) At points of situations like this, seriously writing letters?? Then can I ask everybody, what more can our NEA do?? Help put out the Sumatra fire? Send our famous red rhinos. ? I'm not supporting any sides because I'm a hater to everything. But sometimes u have to accept the facts that nothing much can be done. The readings, is one of the most joke part i can see in everybody's mind. If u know there's haze, then the fact is there's haze, what good is the point even in reading the psi when humans are already taking the effort in protecting themselves already. It has become a number guessing game about the next update of psi rather than for it's real purpose. This is not the first time singapore is suffering from haze. Hence no issues about the elderly not knowing about haze, children have schools and tv programs to educate them, and for the majority, i guess they have their eyes to see that everything in their sight is blur so there is literally trace of haze going on at the current point.

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    1. I'm very glad that you've posted this reply. You and I share the exact same sentiments. Everybody speaks about this as if it is so easy for the government to solve this. Today I just read the papers and PM Lee said that we can only influence and convince, but we can't force another government to do anything, which is entirely true! If we wanted to force them to stop it, we'd have pulled out the SAF in 48 hours and invaded them.

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    2. This is not SARS, the haze is not infectious, there is no reason why a person needs 2 N95 masks a day. In fact, I would use the same one for a week or more! My son has been using the same surgical mask for days because I have no other masks for him!

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    3. Are you sure you're a Singaporean? You don't seem to know the local Singaporeans very well. For records, PSI already hit past 400 today. >300 is already hazardous, let alone 400. Yet, construction work are still on-going and the workers have no mask to even protect themselves from breathing in the air containing harmful substances and their hard labour making them breathe in even more than someone just walking the street. Even if all work can't be stopped because the country can't survive either, but there is still more can be done so that less people are at risk! Work that is not urgent and are in more risky conditions, why shouldn't it take a pause or even increase safety measures like give their workers mask to protect themselves?!

      With regards to your 3rd point. Yes, Singaporeans are "kiasee". How can they get masks if there isn't any more left?! I left the house (with a N95) for a short while and there were so many people who did not have masks waiting at the busstop, etc. And that was when PSI have hit 400! Could they help it if the stocks for masks have ran out? Most of us who may have the N95 masks is because we have in stock from previous outbreaks like SARS or something.

      And nope! Not all Singaporeans are aware of how bad (in terms of how dangerous) the haze is right now. You yourself said that this is not the first time Singapore is suffering from haze. HOWEVER, this is the first time it has hit so high (even hit past 400!) and the haze still lasting for 5days and counting! Don't you know that Singaporeans, especially the younger generation have grown up in well-protected Singapore... so many people take things for granted! (plus they are so used to having good air) The elderly who may not understand PSI reading and all may just think... oh it's just another haze... happens every year, maybe a little bit worse this year that's all. How will they then realize that this time the case is different?

      There is a growing concern, and I feel that this is valid and should be addressed. It is not just concern for ourselves, but for those who are less informed, higher at risk, more affected.

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    4. I agree with the point above.

      None of you here today understands what has been going on and why you should think twice. The burning that happens in Indonesia was not merely 'forest burning'. When you burn something, you need to use a 'catalyst', do you know what Indonesians use for that, they use plastic.

      So, not only the toxic organic waste that we currently has to inhale, but also a burning non-organic, cancerous materials, like polyethylene. Now, the dust particle of PM2.5 is exactly that. What is worse today is the fact that the concentration of that particles (PM2.5) is higher than in the past few years. This particle can impact us in long term, and it stays forever.

      Now, what we also dont quite understand is how lung works. Back in the past, I used to have a study over this and found out that once the sponge cells in the lung dead, it does not recover. This is just like smoking, but smoking is an act of taking in nicotin, which is actually less hazardous than taking in small particle dusts.

      I am currently left in a disappointment. My company did nothing to its employees despite they adopting a value of safety and injury free. and worse, the government that I support is now doing a slow job in decision making. I understand that issuing a stop work order or even closure of public schools will disrupt the social norm and the economic cost of this is enormous. It is a hard decision.

      Today I have to agree that we pay our government too high for not doing anything. They cant keep on speaking to fellow Indonesians and ask for their help. And sadly but agreeably, our government is like a child. They are Not an adult who will stand up and cross the line for the good of the citizen. Yes a hardline approach may be hard and unnecessary, but at least they can issue 'a hard pressed' decision to give option for workers to work from home for example. or to let school to allow children to stay at home where they choose to do so.

      Saddened and Disappointed, I will just leave the country for the time being. Never mind what my company will say to me, cause it is a crisis today. You have to make decision for your own. and I think you should go somewhere. At least 1-2 weeks. Take a vacation earlier then. Or just leave, why think so much when you are now at risk.

      Delete
  7. Well said! Best post I've read about the haze thus far.

    Action needs to be taken NOW with PSI at 400. How much more do they want to see the numbers up by before doing SOMETHING?

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    1. Thanks for the kind comment! My sentiments exactly.

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  8. well written. clear, concise and straight to the point. hope our million dollar govt will do something internally soon, especially about the distribution of masks. take care.

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  9. Haze reduction idea - All commercial buildings have fire hoses, just drag them to the top floor, attach fine nozzles, and spray. For HDB, still able to do the same.

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    1. Hi Andre,

      Funny you should suggest this. I was out for dinner with a colleague last night and she suggested that a wet cloth may be more effective than a dry face mask, since in the event of a fire, one should cover the nose and mouth with a face mask and crawl close to the ground. Unfortunately the underground MRT stations also very hazy...

      On a smaller scale, maybe we should periodically stand under the shower. Fire hose is dangerous and heavy. Haha.

      -A

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    2. I'm not sure if the fine mist will trap the particles. Another idea is to install giant air suckers and channel the output into the seawater. May sound crazy, but hey, could be possible.

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  10. All your measures all are easier said than done. You need people and time to co-ordinate and organize all these things, do you expect the government to snap their fingers and everything will be up immediately? It's easy to be the one typing suggestions and telling others what to do, but have you ever thought of what it needs to make all these happen?

    And as for stop-work order, how exactly does it differs between staying at home and working in office? You will most likely on air-conditioning for the whole house for the whole day, and you will still need to go out and buy food, the only thing that's different is that you don't have to travel to work. Stop using the haze as an excuse not to work.

    Instead of blaming the government for not doing this and that, why not suggest some things that we as individuals can do to protect ourselves?

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    1. Jasline,

      Yes, such efforts take coordination, time and effort. And if this had been a zombie outbreak than I would agree that NO ONE could have been adqeuately prepared (despite the US CDC publishing their tongue-in-cheek, zombie outbreak advice on their website). No, this is a haze and it has happened i Singapore before and the same warnings and precautions have been taken each time. Is it not outside the wit of the Singapore government to have put together a Haze Response Plan well before this haze hit the country, and could have carried out some of response measures the authors of this blog had in place. The government is so good with public campaigns about littering, etc, surely it is not outside our scope of imagination to think they could have a similar educational campaign or preparation campaign to inform the public, or school children.

      Delete
    2. This haze first started way back in 1997 or around that. It comes back every year and you are saying the Govt has no protocol in place? What is he point of monitoring PSI if the measures are "easier said than done"?

      Individuals can help themselves to masks if they are available at convenient points like NTUC outlets, CCs etc. Individuals can help themselves if they can stay indoors (for those whose work is outdoors). Etc Etc

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    3. The haze has been coming back since 1997, that's about 16 yrs ago. You are saying there is no protocol in place all these years? What is the point of monitoring PSI if all they want to do with the data is show it?

      Individuals can help themselves if masks are available at convenient outlets like NTUC, CCs, etc. Outdoor workers should stop work and stay indoors, this needs to be enforced by Govt or employers won't give a hood.

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  11. I agree with most of the points you have raised, but would like to suggest that a Stop-Work order for all just isn't possible. What about those working in healthcare, those on the frontline eg. police officers, firefighters etc, those selling food (for cooking or immediate consumption) and many others who provide essential services? A country isn't a game -- you can't save and continue at a later time. I'm politically apathetic, but in this case, I think the government has made the sound choice in basing their decision about stop-work orders on a daily outlook. Of course, there are some jobs that should be stopped immediately, in particular, construction as the workers are exposed to more sources of dust and I do agree that MOM should make a stand about this. - Jean

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  12. hi I read this blog but would like to share my views
    1. you do realise that if the government were to issue out n94 mask it would have to go through an extreme amount of legal tenders to get suppliers and the finances. So as to prevent any form mistakes in transactions and accusations of misuse of funds. In which it would also take time to transport these mask to SG and keep in mind we not the only one affected, clinics in Malaysia will also at order for the supplies in which the company supplying them will have to finish up the orders from both side which will also take time.
    2. I think it an excellent idea if they educate the people on how they measure the PSI. However they have been educating the public on how to avoid the itching and etc on CNA.
    3,4. The stop work order, it is true that we should stop working due to the haze conditions but if we will just stop a lot of companies will be affected. the gov would have to discuss how private company will go about this stop work order as they will be affect the most.

    And also the this has been the worst case haze situation in 16 years if I'm not wrong. I not saying that it an excuse for the gov to be unprepared but it was really a trust issue with Indonesia gov in which the SG gov are unable to do anything. Anymore pushing will affect ASEAN, in which the question is do we want to push the Indonesian gov till we are hostile to each other by boycotting them as seen from the foreign minister obviously defending the companies as they are a representation of their nation. and even worst till both side use deadly force ? Are you willing in be at war with them ? thus there nothing much anyone can do now apart from the Indonesians Gov

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  13. Adding to the ongoing conversation - https://www.facebook.com/IndraneeRajah/posts/684958554854450

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  14. Jasline - a suggestion as to what individuals can do:

    1. close all windows at home.
    2. seal the windows with tape.
    3. turn on aircons and fans to try to disperse the pollutants, even if it is mixing with the uncirculatable internal air because you've sealed your windows.

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  15. In Hong Kong, even with a Black Rain Storm warning, there will be a day off for all the HKer already, of course there is another day off for typhoon signal 8 or above.

    Day off for people can be done, but the thing is I do agree with some of the people comment before me, there isn't any different between stay in work place or stay home, my whole apartment and all of us smell like a smoke "hot dog" anyway, if not because my son still too little, I wouldn't bring them both stay in the shopping mall all day since I can't have all my window close and have my air-con on.

    But I feel sorry for those outdoor worker, I still saw them working under 371 outside of my HDB cutting grass.

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  16. Very good post and something should be done, but as others write it hard to do something with immediate effect, as time is needed to sort things out. I have no real suggestions on what can be done, but spraying of water from buildings, firetrucks etc should help to some extent, but not for very long. Free masks, could work but guessing people will go crazy and not just take one mask.

    For the people saying people should know what to do, surely you can’t expect people to know what to with PSI at 400, which is very hazardous and life-threatening to ill and elderly persons, the haze has never been this bad. This is similar to what happens with huge forests fires elsewhere, where people actually flee the area as it is that unhealthy and dangerous, unfortunately, view Singapore is a small country there is nowhere to go even a bit part of Malaysia is badly affected.

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  17. I suggested these in Minister Shanmugam's fb page few days back as he wants people to stop complaining but start giving solution. I suggested deploying soldiers all over the island to distribute masks and provide fast medical emergency response to those in need. I called for mandatory provision of mask and reduced work hours for outdoor workers if stop-work is not possible for essential services.

    You know what I got? I got banned from posting in his fb account.

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  18. I agree with you on points 3 & 4. They are basically the same point though. The people are the most important resource in singapore and the government should take care of the people.

    However, all I see are complains and an absolute reliance on the government. I see that you want to go to Austalia and when you go over, will you just complain and do nothing to make your situation better?

    1. Import and bla.. The masks ran out at the start of the week. The time taken to buy and transport the masks from vietnam/china or further takes only 5 days. This is pretty good given that you need to find the stocks, purchase, transport them to a shipyard/airport, transport them internationally, unload and stock up in stores. The problem with giving out free masks is that some people will take hundreds of mask and auction them off to those who didn't manage to get any.

    2. As for the point of information, I think I found a lot of details regarding that on the newspaper and internet.

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  19. Maybe you should all stop worrying about money, & focus on your health. This guy is just frustrated & trying to vent in an obviously harsh time. I work in demolition & deal with asbestos, wearing a mask all day isn't fun but it keeps me safe, I totally understand (mentally not physically) the need of masks for these people. Even if fresh filters arent issued everyday, something has to be done or the damage to the people will cripple you either way..... so there's 2 ultimatums 1. Keep not pressuring your government for protection(which is what your giving half of your salary for) to issue immediate action REGARDLESS of cost(this includes a stop work order(other than emergency services (police, firefighters ect. Issue them immediate PPE*Personal Protective Equipment* to keep the city safe & in controll, yes companies will suffer, but what good is a company with sick employees?*this means all of you*); which will ultimately cripple and or kill you if you work/go outside in the haze for an extended time...ah jeez i better go to work because economy dictates i should....NO, what good is economy if your dead or seriously crippled?. Or 2.take actions of physical and mental purpose. Like actually going to your gov door step to be heard & seen, or constantly blogging like this guy. To sum it all up, Your health cannot recouperate, your wallets can... & you can't rebuild a economy if there are no people to do it. STAY SAFE & don't discourage reason over money. PS these are my opinions & should be taken as such, this means im not interested in a rebuttle.

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  20. This is 2013...how the heck does the saying "easier said than done" even exist??? Especially for such a wealthy area of the world?

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  21. Excellent post!

    The haze is not a new phenomenon, should'nt there be contingency plans in place in case it goes out of control?

    When your neighbor's house on the next block is ablaze, do you help your children first or do you go to his house to complain about the smog?

    Singapore isn't a very large nation, the ministers are amongst the highest paid in the world. So, excuse me, if i expect a little more than just talk

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  22. We have had haze for many years. And most of the time, very little was done because for a great number of those years, the haze was not as bad. Our government thought that the haze problem would eventually go away. When this year's haze hit hazardous levels, only then did they decide to put more effort into combating the problem.

    But writing letters and sending delegations to have meetings will not extinguish fires. The government should have already known that this happens every year during the same timeframe and should have preempted the Indonesians to take preventative measures before the first match was lit.

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  23. Yeah... The people I pity the most right now are the construction workers... On top of the dust they have to breathe in everyday they have the haze... And most of them come from countries who aren't exactly affected by the haze right now... They really should stop constructions... Iz so bad for their health! - Joanne

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  24. What's wrong with having high expectations from something we paid a lot for? They are earning amounts no other government in the world is earning and they should be doing things no other government in the world can do.

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  25. I can understand all the frustrations and fears arising from the haze. However, are we a little too hysteria over this incident?

    N95 masks are sold out as soon as it's place on the shelf of Guardian, Watson and other pharmacies. I believe this is the result of a number of citizens hoarding up supplies more than what they can use. of course, i suspect there is some opportunists around.

    I do agree that the govt should give out N95 masks for free, but, only to selective group of people. I would say the priorities should be the poor, the handicapped, the elderly. These are the group of underprivileged who needs the most help rather than those citizens whom purchased foreign properties.

    We all have individual responsibilities to take care of ourselves. It's disheartening to see so many citizens are so dependent on the SG govt whenever crisis arises.

    I would propose to start a volunteer group to gather excess masks and distribute to the elderly, the young around our respective neighbour area. We can all do a part in making this crisis a more bearable for everyone of us.

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  26. While you people are complaining about our government, this is what others are doing.

    http://youtu.be/Os1A7wys5lM

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  27. http://wiseoftheday.blogspot.sg/2013/06/questions-for-neas-psi.html

    Think NEA should update the PSI standards too!!

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  28. Do check out http://www.myqute.com/blog/life-saving-tips-for-hazy-days/ Tells you the places to get the masks for cheap. And there is a very important life-saving tip in there they don't tell you (N95 masks do not perform as well as they would like you to think). Yes, con't be cheated to pay $19 or $20 per mask!

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  29. Why not be constructive instead of just pointing out what you think are flaws in the arguments? If a stop-order doesn't work, then why not consider what alternatives the Government could possibly implement to alleviate the situation instead of just effectively stating "haha your idea won't work, too bad"?

    Instead, why not suggest things like
    1. a peer screening program whereby co-workers are taught the symptoms of haze-related illnesses and to sound out if anyone looks to be suffering.
    2. setting up a distribution centre where companies may purchase necessary equipment to combat haze (masks, asthma inhalers, etc) at cost from the government, who will be in charge of travelling to overseas nations to source of the said goods on an urgent basis.
    3. issuing a guideline on what safety requirements should be in place for workers, especially those who continue to work outdoors. Even if work cannot stop, the least that can be done is to ensure that workers either have a mask or a mask equivalent. Heck, even a wet scarf around the mouth and nose area would help to lessen the effect.
    4. Ensuring that medical facilities remain well stocked and increase the capacity to ensure that all incoming patients are attended to promptly. This can be done by setting up mobile medical stations (those in army should know this is possible) and bringing in foreign doctors and nurses temporarily for this crunch period.
    5. Monitor and ensure that public transport continue to be extra efficient at this period so that Singaporean's exposure to the air (during travel time) is minimised.

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  30. Hi, only just came across your blog post. Earlier this afternoon, I sent an email to all the ministers, MPs and NCMPs. Here's a copy of my email. The email was sent before I saw your blog though.

    https://www.facebook.com/notes/ivy-qiu/singapore-governments-actions-on-the-haze/10152977706260503

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  31. In World War 2, The British continued going to work amidst intermittent bombings and danger. I think what the government is trying to do now is to prevent the public from panicking. If even the government endorses this debilitating fear of the haze (although it is justified), the potential debilitating effects on the public will be much worse and it will resonate severely in more than just the economic aspect of our "health" as a nation. I think the government is doing all they can now. Please be patient.

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  32. Guys. Stop whining. It's times like this that I remember why I'm ashamed to be Singaporean, clear in this typical example of Singaporean rambling:

    1. blame the government
    2. demand FREE solutions
    3. debunk failed attempts as if, in hindsight, we all knew said attempts were bad ideas
    4. use ridiculous, unrealistic statistics

    You said this crisis is "more than 100x worse than SARS." SARS killed, according to you, 33 people. Until the haze kills more than 3,300, this is not "100x worse". You said people are "literally dying." No one has died.

    You demand FREE masks. Someone has already pointed out why this impossible, but as usual, Singaporean's solution to everything is to "bill the government."

    Educate the people: As if this minor matter isn't taking up ENOUGH SPACE ALREADY! Educate? Really? Is not looking out the window good enough for anyone with commonsense to know that there is haze outside? Oh...I forgot. Singaporeans lack basic commonsense.

    Regarding stop-work order, it's a good idea in theory--until I told you that as long as you did not work, you would not get paid, until you realize that you live hand-to-mouth and that after a few days of no work you would have no money to eat...McD Delivery, for example, ceased their operations--good CSR, you might say, till you realize that those poor kids getting paid $5/hour are now out of a job.

    Think before you speak. And ask your cousin Mr. X to do the same.

    Probably better you escape as planned, cuz it's people like you that are making this problem bigger than it is.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Nathan, S here.

      Your comment is long and articulate but full of shit. Allow me to enlighten you.

      1. Accusing us of "blaming" the government is very simplistic. Refer to my post on the impotence of the government. It is really the delay in action and leadership of the highest paid cabinet in the world. When people this well-paid are put in power, any logical person would expect to get their tax dollars worth. You are a tax-payer in Singapore, I presume? Moreover, these world's highest-paid government runs down the opposition at every opportunity. They ask how well the opposition can handle crises should they be in power.

      I say they are a bunch of hypocrites. Don't stand on their side, it doesn't reflect well on you.

      2. Demanding free solutions. I must admit it sounds a bit overboard to the unthinking. I suppose you will slam that self-righteous mask-distributing dude Gerald for giving out "free solutions"? While I don't like him as a person, I must respect him for actually doing what our Government has thus far failed to do.

      In the absence of "free solutions", TTSH has seized the opportunity to jack up the price of N95s. Actually their price increase isn't astronomical. There are anecdotes of people selling masks for $10 a piece or more, but trust the authorities to censor the bad news on the guise of "not fear-mongering".

      3. "Failed attempts". I don't quite know what you are talking about here. Let me guess... you are referring to the fact that this has been a recurring problem over at least the past 15 years which the PAP hasn't been able to resolve, aren't you? I think this point is clear enough to those whose brains have survived the PM2.5 onslaught.

      4. Ridiculous, unrealistic statistics.. Oh man, this has got to be an even bigger joke! But you may not know why.

      Ok granted, if you want to compare numbers of deaths ONLY, and exactly, then my darling wife may have exaggerated a little. As far as ANY OF US know.

      Unless you are a complete idiot who denies the effects of haze, do you know how many people have died because of it? How many more asthma attacks and heart attacks there are? Frankly, I don't, because I have been reading the right things approved by MDA. But with PSI the way it is, I'm sure there are people somewhere who have been very adversely affected to the point of premature death.

      How about the number of people directly affected (everyone less the elite whom I presume have proper HEPA filters at home) compared to SARS? Who's being "ridiculous and unrealistic" now? Go Google "pot calling kettle black", then take a good look in the mirror and reflect.

      You are trying to tell us that "free masks" are a worse proposition than not enough masks in PSI of 400 plus, no stop work orders, and sheer profiteering? Wow, I've found someone more fucked-up than the PAP is. I'm glad you are *apparently* not an office-holder.

      "Educate". I do hope that I am educating you. Or at least the bystanders watching this space. Next.

      Stop work order sucks huh? Do you have a better solution? I've guessed not.

      Let me give you a hint. Reserves. Unless you have found out that there are none, then do tell us all about it! But of course to people lie you, reserves are sacred, and NEVER to be touched under any circumstances.

      I am not even clamouring for the Government to toss out free handouts to all and plunder the reserves, because I know there are plenty of ignorami who will accuse me of trying to ask that. In fact, I don't even think the reserves need to be touched. Surely there are some ready-use emergency funds, unless I have presumed too much about the PAP's lack of complacency...

      As for the rest of your comment, having called you out for what you are, I think I have sufficiently demolished it.

      - S

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    2. Looking out the window is apparently not good enough! The 3 older folks living in my house thinks it is perfectly OK to open the windows! I've tried telling them about the PM2.5 particles being so tiny and all the health risks they bring but my words does not hold any weight. And I'm not the only one having this problem, i have a few friends who also have been trying to get their folks to close windows but to no avail.. WHY? coz this generation grew up thinking that the government words is law so if the govt. does not say anything, it is not serious enough. That is their mentality! So yes.. our public NEEDS to be educated.. INSTRUCTED! As a Singaporean myself, i hate to agree that Singaporeans lack basic commonsense but indeed some of us do

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    3. Sorry mate you are full of shit. If our world class government is getting that kind of ridiculously high pay. Then my expectation of them is naturally high. If their pay is lower and more realistic then I might disagree with neuroticramblings

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  33. Agree with your points.. ESPECIALLY the bit about educating the people! I CANNOT get the older generation folks in my household to keep the windows CLOSED! even at hazardous psi levels.. they think having a small crack open is fine!! I've been explaining to them using up all my precious oxygen getting agitated and the windows are STILL open! what's the point of staying indoors if u are living in my house!!

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  34. Msia n sg millitary can join forces n go in to clear the fires, bypassing sovereignty n diplomacy, under the name of World Peace. This is the most direct n efficient approach. We can't be blame for helping a neighbour put out fire right?

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  35. I've sent your post and blog page to PM LHL's message box yesterday. Its a cold shot but better than nothing. You should consider doing the same (for all future ideas you want to address them with a chance) besides just posting for public view/read, faster, since the situation is dire straits and you have strong sentiments about it with ideas.

    Its great to share ideas, much better to put it into action by sending also to possible authorities (or maybe a petition page even?) who can execute it than letting it sit for read only. Thanks for sharing.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Debbie.

      Actually, the PAP monitors blogs very closely, and sends its "lapdogs" to pester bloggers such as NRSC. Just take a look at some of the rubbish posted in defense of the Government.

      So, our blog could have already reached him anyway, given our readership numbers.

      But thanks for passing on the message anyway!

      - S

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