It seems like a very popular topic of conversation or rather the only topic is about the haze.
I left my house at 1.30 p.m. to go for my exam. It is just my luck that of all days, today is the haziest. Visibilty is so low and to be cynical, it is so bad, it is almost like it is the end of the world.
On a lighter note, someone said that it looked like Mordor was burning.
It does seem as if the whole of Klang Valley has been transplanted to Genting. Only that it's not water vapour, but particulate pollutants. Not wispy and whitish but off-white and cough-inducing. Heck, if you look closer, it is almost brown.
Before I left home, I applied an extra thick layer of moisturizer with SPF 15. Not that it did me any good. The dry and humid weather had me sweating in less than five minutes!
Anyway, when I was in New Town, I managed to snap this while I was waiting for the LRT at the Taman Jaya station.
Notice how bleak it looks. And it was only 2 in the afternoon!
On my way home, I found out that the government has agreed to release the API (Air Pollutant Index). I surfed to the Star website and found this.
Apparently, at noon today, the API was 204 in Petaling Jaya. Which is Very Unhealthy. An index of above 300 means it is hazardous.
The worst affected area is Port Klang, with an API of 410 at noon.
The six o'clock news on the radio reported that the government would only declare an emergency if the API reaches 500.
I wonder what do they call it when it breaches 500?
Previously, the API was kept hush-hush as apparently, the high index numbers could keep tourists away and alarm the public.
Why, it must be keeping only the blind tourists away, because clearly, you don't need the damned index to know that the air quality is terrible.
On a more serious note, it is worthwhile to think why the haze has become an annual event. We all know what the cause is - hotspots (not to be confused with the WiFi connectivity areas) in Sumatera, Indonesia. Massive forests fires to clear land.
What steps have been taken so far to overcome to reduce this problem?
A bit of googling yielded this interesting titbit of info. In this exclusive report by MCA, it was stated that:
The countries had signed the Asean Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution aimed at preventing and monitoring transboundary haze. It came into effect on November 25, 2003 when six countries ratified the agreement. The countries were Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Vietnam and Thailand.
Noticed that one very important member country is missing? What good is the agreement if the very country which causes the haze has not ratified it?
It all goes back to this so-called ASEAN "non-intervention" policy. Basically, it means "the right of every state to make national policy free from external subversion or coercion" [taken from Harvard International Review, Vol. 23].
In other words, everybody goes about minding their own business.
It was indeed embarassing that it took a no-show from Condoleezza Rice last month to the ASEAN Regional Summit to "coerce" Myanmar to give the ASEAN presidency a miss, which is theirs next year under a rotational system.
Myanmar's track record in human rights is dismal. Silence from its neighbours does not mean they condone its actions but surely, it can't be construed as condemnation either.
Clearly, after almost forty years since its inception, ASEAN has mature and individual countries should be able accept constructive intervention and criticism. A review of this non-intervention policy is timely.
In the meantime, I can only gripe about the unhealthy effects of the haze. Having stressed over my exams and now the haze; all these are definitely not doing any good to my soft beautiful skin.
Not forgetting, the haze is also bad for the lungs and respiratory system.
Later. *goes off to put more moisturizer*