Solutions, not excuses, needed to tackle haze

The sources for the haze problem must be identified and punishment imposed on polluters must be severe enough to serve as a deterrent. (Bernama pic)

By TK Chua

Can I say this: we expect PH government to be more honest, less susceptible to vested interests, more determined to solve protracted problems and more willing to hear suggestions and feedback from the people?

The haze season is around us again. I think in between haze and water contamination of our rivers and catchment areas, I have easily written more than 10 letters over the years to highlight these issues for concerted actions.

We now have a new and very dynamic minister in charge of environment. I really hope that from now on there will be more information and solutions rather than excuses and procrastination.

For haze, do we know where the major sources of this menace are? I heard it is largely transboundary pollution originating from Indonesia. But is this true? I also heard open burnings are rampant within our country especially during hot and dry season. If haze is due to both external and domestic causes, do we know the relative culpability of each?

For a long time we don’t even know specifically who the real culprits are. Those reported open burnings in Indonesia, are they largely caused by Malaysian plantation companies or someone else?

As for open burnings within our country, do we know who the land owners are?

Haze pollution originating from another country is probably more difficult to resolve. But that does not preclude us from finding a more enduring solution, more so if the culprits involved are Malaysian companies.

As for open burnings within our jurisdiction, I think there should be no compromise on this. Identify the culprits and impose punishments commensurating with the damages caused.

Sometimes open burning is adopted to clear land simply because it is cheaper than paying the fine. It is time punishment imposed on polluters is severe enough to serve as a deterrent.

Pollution is an externality that the market mechanism is not able resolve. Left on its own, it will continue to persist. We can only expect the government and the regulator to enforce compliance.

TK Chua is an FMT reader.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.