Asia Minute: Singapore’s Air Emergency

Sep 25, 2015

Credit Wikipedia

One of the many reasons to be grateful for Hawai‘i’s trade winds is that they keep vog away from residents north and west of the Big Island. But in some parts of the world, problems of hazy skies need more than trade winds as a solution. HPR’s Bill Dorman explains in today’s Asia Minute.

There is no school in Singapore today.

It’s not a national holiday---it’s a health precaution.

The air pollution has gotten so bad from forest fires in neighboring countries that authorities expect the air in Singapore to be in a range the National Environment Agency calls “very unhealthy.”

So in a pre-emptive strike, the Education Minister and other cabinet officials called a news conference Thursday night….announcing all primary and secondary schools in the country would be closed on Friday.

The government is passing out free face masks to elderly residents and those in poor health.

Junior colleges and universities ARE holding classes, and there is no national cancelation of work.

Although Singapore’s interestingly-named Manpower Minister says employers must judge the risks involved for workers—especially those laboring outside.

The culprit is smoke and haze blowing from fires in Indonesia and Malaysia, usually set on purpose and illegally to clear land to plant crops such as palm oil.

Earlier this week, Indonesia’s government said licenses of four plantation companies have been suspended or revoked for starting fires.

The Jakarta Post reports more than two dozen other companies and some 140 individuals are under investigation for the same reason.