Indonesian VP appeals for Singapore’s help

The Indonesian government is finally open to foreign intervention to help fight forest fires causing regional haze.

According to local news agency Antara News, Indonesian Vice-President Jusuf Kalla said this yesterday (27 Sep):

Please come, we are open. Singapore can see for itself. Singapore, please come if you want to help. Don’t just talk.

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Just last Wednesday (23 Sep), the PSI level in Central Kalimantan reached nearly 2,000.

Singapore’s PSI level also hit record high with a PSI reading of 316 last Thursday (24 Sep), the highest reading this year.

In fact, this is not Kalla’s first invitation for Singapore to help. Two weeks ago (15 Sep), in an appeal to Singapore through local media to assist in fighting the forest fires, Kalla was quoted:

Singapore, please come. Singapore also knows that the natural disaster can happen anywhere.

Reports have suggested that the dry weather due to the El Nino phenomenon could mean that the haze would persist until monsoon season in November.

Maybe Jusuf panicked upon hearing this. Just maybe.

After all, he was famously known for saying this in March earlier this year, “For 11 months, they enjoyed nice air from Indonesia and they never thanked us. They have suffered because of the haze for one month and they get upset.”

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Does Indonesia really want help from Singapore?

We’re not too sure either.

Here’s a timeline of the recent events.

11 September: Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said he had contacted Indonesia’s Defence Minister the day before (10 Sep) and that Indonesia has taken up Singapore government’s offer to help fight Sumatra’s forest fires. The offer was to send Charlies (C-130s) for cloud seeding and Chinooks for large water buckets to douse fires.

12 September: According to Jakarta Post, Indonesia has turned down Singapore’s offer. Indonesian Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar said the government was well-equipped and could handle the situation by themselves, adding that they had seven aircraft ready for water bombing and cloud seeding and would deploy another three planes.

14 September: Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan spoke with Dr Siti Nurbaya, extending Singapore’s offer to help tackle forest fires once again. Dr Siti Nurbaya said Indonesia had already deployed resources to fight the fires but would consult Indonesian President Joko Widodo, who is overseeing the effort.

15 September: Kalla appealed for Singapore to “please come and tackle the haze” because “the effect is also felt by Singapore”.

27 September: Kalla openly invited Singapore to help solve the haze problem instead of just talking about it like our Ministers

TL;DR — VP says yes to help; Environment and Forestry Minister says thanks but no thanks, rejecting Singapore’s offer twice.

So who’s got the final say?

According to this thread on Reddit, it seems like Dr Siti Nurbaya has the veto power.

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So what next?

Will Indonesia finally accept the help from our government, or continue to leave us shrouded in smog? The PSI reading has been fluctuating, but is likely to continue till end November if there is no intervention.

In the meantime, always use protection.

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Featured image via Koran Nonstop
With reference to Channel NewsAsia