Monday, September 14, 2015

Apology is not enough, send them the bill

IN my child’s Primary 2 Dunia Sains dan Teknologi (The World of Science and Technology) book, the first topic is Keperluan Asas Kita, which identifies the fundamentals of life.
Air is one of them. 

However, the government, be it state or federal, does not seem very much concerned with this essential ingredient of life. 

For the past decade or more, Malaysians have been robbed of our right to fresh clean air, not because of the pollution level within our country or smokers at public places (we have imposed much-lauded segregation system for smokers and non-smokers) or lack of greenbelts and forests, but due to the actions or inactions of our neighbouring country, which do not fall short of being irresponsible and greedy. 

Irresponsible, because it very well knows the hazard caused to others living in this region, and greedy, because there is an alternative to burning old crops and trees/plants for land clearance, but such options are not taken because of profit, their own profit. 

Any alternative way of disposing felled trees and unwanted plants would incur higher monetary costs as technology and machinery will invariably will be used. 

Many Malaysians now suffer from various allergies, such as eczema and asthma, due to lack of outdoor activities. 

I had spent much of my younger days outdoors, cycling, going to the beach, walking about in town, playing badminton on the lawn any time that I pleased, without having to check the weather forecast. 

In the later part of my youth, I started suffering from severe eczema and sinusitis, which I still do. And they flare up when hazy days are here. 

Sadly, the same carefree life is not an option for my children. Many a time, I have to make them wear face masks to school, which means that outdoor activity is out of question. 

Illnesses will cause a decrease in production with rising sick leave and inefficiency. 

The tourism industry, too, will be badly affected in the long run as pictures have started going round of people at the beach or sightseeing bus rides with haze masks on, among others. 

Further, we are the ones who end up bearing increased out-of-pocket expenses, such as medical fees and all sorts of equipment, such as air purifiers and air-conditioning (for ventilation, as the windows and doors need to be shut), and hence, higher electricity bills. 

All these costs should be passed back to our neighbours, and be demanded as compensation, together with damages. Maybe if it starts hurting their pockets, they, too, will take this seriously. 

The government has to take effective measures to battle this hazard, whether through political pressure, economical pressure, such as through Asean, and/or legal action for nuisance, breach of our airspace, etc., to ensure this perpetual hazard is put to a stop once and all. 

It’s the smoke that kills, not the fire. 

An apology from our neighbour is not sufficient; just like a murderer cannot be pardoned for a murder just by saying sorry.