Every September (apparently), a thick haze rolls into Malaysia from forest fires in Indonesia. Most days it’s a minor convenience, but other days it looks like the picture above and burns your eyes and scratches your throat. It got so bad this week that they closed Trina’s and all the other schools in Kuala Lumpur. Yuck.
It could be worse though. Rumour has it that 20ish years ago they actually sent all the foreign teachers home during the school year for two months while the haze blanketed the country.
A majority of the fires are intentionally set by small-scale Indonesian farmers who work for large-scale Singaporean and Malaysian palm oil companies. The fires are necessary to clear the land to plant new palm fields. Without the necessary space for a new crop, the local farmers can’t earn a living and the palm oil companies can’t meet the growing (and ravenous) global demand for palm oil. (I read it’s in 50% of all products in the grocery store – see: your shampoo, chocolate, lipstick, etc.)
So, like most issues on this planet, solving the haze problem is complex (I plan to get on it next week. It’s Friday after all and even the unemployed need a break).
In the meantime, Malaysia and Singapore governments will continue to blame Indonesia for a problem largely caused by Malaysian and Singaporean companies. And we go round and round.
Here’s hoping to some rain, some wind and that a clearer view eventually prevails.