Connect with us

Opinion

Opinion: Action against smog

Legacy Phuket Gazette

Published

 on 

PHUKET: The unprecedented expanse of smog blanketing Phuket in recent months has quite rightly trained the spotlight on Indonesia, where out-of-control forest fires continue to belch smoke into the atmosphere at a dangerous rate.

Although illegal in Indonesia, ‘slash-and-burn’ land clearing techniques that set off these annual conflagrations have long been a source of friction between Indonesia and its neighbors, particularly Singapore and Malaysia.

The past several weeks have given us here in Phuket yet another bitter taste of what these neighbors have suffered for decades: respiratory problems, burning eyes and skies so white that not even the sun can be clearly seen.

It’s darkly ironic that this immense pall befalls us in the run-up to the highly-touted advent of the Asean Economic Community (AEC), the terms of which will take effect less than two months from now.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), the well-funded but ineffectual regional bloc leading all the fanfare, has as its motto: ‘One Vision, One Identity, One Community’.

But if there really is a shared vision, it is a hazy one indeed. The sad reality is that the regional smog problem is probably the single most tangible and obvious factor uniting all member states. Perhaps Asean should prepare to issue surgical masks bearing the group’s proud emblem as a sign of unity as the big day approaches.

The truth is that Asean functions as more of a rich boys’ club than any real instrument of integrated, regional development. Its self-stated raison d’etre is that no member state shall interfere in the internal affairs of its neighbors. In this regard, the bloc has been a success – much to the delight of human traffickers, illegal fishermen, fuel smugglers, drug dealers, arms traders and the many others who thrive in the margins of lawlessness that the AEC would appear dedicated to prolong, rather than eradicate.

This ‘what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas’ mentality might have made sense a few decades back when regional stability could not be taken for granted, but it has no place in 2015 and beyond. In an increasingly globalized world, our leaders need to speak out and take action when their neighbor’s dumpster is on fire.

Popular Indonesian leader Joko Widodo was recently quoted as saying it would take ‘at least three years’ before regulatory changes could be put in place to end the current dynamic. This is not good enough. The fires have already sent up in smoke thousands of square kilometers of the world’s most precious forest, with the annual blanket of toxins created by the arsonists inevitably delivering hospitalization and life’s final breath to so many of their neighbors.

As Asean has been powerless to affect change on the issue, it is time for leaders in Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and other affected nations to act independently to protect their own people. They should consider economic sanctions, such as trade bans on pulp and paper products, in order to ‘encourage’ the Indonesians to end these cataclysmic fires and protect what remains of the world’s vital virgin rain forests.

 

Get more from The Thaiger

📱 Download our app on Android or iOS
👋 Have your say on our Thailand forum
🔔 Subscribe to our daily newsletter
📺 Subscribe / Join for daily shows
👍 Like/Follow us on Facebook
🐦 FOLLOW us on Twitter
📷 FOLLOW us on Instagram

image

Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Follow Thaiger by email:

Coronavirus (Covid-19)10 hours ago

Expert says Delta Plus could be up to 15% more transmissible than Delta Covid variant

Thailand11 hours ago

Thailand News Today | Dirty medical gloves, Thailand defends spending 100m on New year celebrations | Oct. 26

Thailand11 hours ago

Digital platforms to be subject to new regulations following draft decree

Sponsored12 hours ago

Don’t wait!! Book your berth or booth at the Thailand International Boat Show

Welcome back to Thailand!

Thaiger is getting behind local businesses for the restart of tourism in Thailand - up to 50% discounts across all advertising packages!

Bangkok11 hours ago

Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport prepares for November reopening

Coronavirus (Covid-19)11 hours ago

Tuesday Covid Update: 7,706 new cases; provincial totals

Thailand12 hours ago

PM Prayut Chan-o-cha addresses Southeast Asia leaders at 38th ASEAN summit

image
Join the conversation on the Thaiger Talk forums today!
Thailand15 hours ago

November reopening concerns majority of Thais, Department of Health survey shows

Thailand15 hours ago

British divers say they risked arrest for giving boys ketamine during cave rescue

World16 hours ago

US President Biden to join ASEAN summit as leaders poised to discuss key regional issues

Thailand18 hours ago

Prayut orders investigation into used medical gloves exported to the US

Coronavirus (Covid-19)18 hours ago

Health officials play down concerns over Thailand’s first case of Delta Plus variant

Bangkok18 hours ago

Chulalongkorn students drop royal parade on grounds it promotes “authoritarianism”

Thailand19 hours ago

Thailand Top Stories | TAT explains entry for travelers outside quarantine exemption list | October 26

Phuket19 hours ago

Thai PM defends plan to spend 100 million baht on New Year’s Eve celebrities

Tourism19 hours ago

Government’s domestic tour package subsidy receives lukewarm response

Thailand1 month ago

Morning Top Stories Thailand | Police to end protests, Human Trafficking | September 14

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism8 months ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism8 months ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism8 months ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand9 months ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand9 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand9 months ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand9 months ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand10 months ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand10 months ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand10 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand10 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11

Trending