Jakarta will accept Singapore’s help in fighting forest fires
Indonesia has finally accepted Singapore’s offer to help fight the haze.
Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said on Facebook that Indonesia’s Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi indicated that Jakarta will accept Singapore’s offer of assets and personnel to fight forest fires.
Earlier, Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) had sent a formal request to the Indonesian government to hand over the names of companies suspected of contributing to haze and reiterated its offer to help fight the haze to Indonesia.
In the request, Singapore offered:
- A C-130 aircraft for cloud seeding operations;
- Up to two C-130 aircraft to ferry a fire-fighting assistance team from the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF);
- A team from SCDF to provide assessment and planning assistance;
- High resolution satellite pictures and hotspot coordinates; and
- A Chinook helicopter with one heli-bucket under-slung, subject to their operational availability.
Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore have been wheezing from haze caused by the Indonesian forest fires for over a month.
In early October, the haze reached southern Thailand as Songkhla province’s Hat Yai district was clogged with smoke from dust particles increasing above safety levels. In Singapore, primary and secondary schools were closed on 25 September as PSI reading hit 316, reaching hazardous levels.
A NASA said that this year’s haze could be among the worst in history.
“If the forecasts for a longer dry season hold, this suggests 2015 will rank among the most severe events on record,” Robert Field, of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, told the Sydney Morning Herald.
Sticking with the decision
Hopefully, Indonesia sticks to its decision to get external help this time round. Earlier on September 11, the Indonesian accepted Singapore’s assistance, but changed its mind days later. Vice-President Jusuf Kalla said after that: “Please come if you want to help. Don’t just talk.”
Many online welcomed the latest decision by the Indonesian government, though some netizens were pessimistic about Indonesian government’s sureness of their decision this time.
If Indonesia stops playing ping-pong with its decision to accept help, we might just be able to see blue skies again.
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