Somewhere in Kuala Lumpur. 7:14 p.m., 8 October 2006.
Somewhere else in Kuala Lumpur. 7:16 p.m., 8 October 2006.
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Dear President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia,
I wonder if you think the haze is a joke.
Apparently, you are one of the favourites to win this year's Nobel Peace Prize, for your role in creating peace in Aceh. At least, that's what it says here.
At any rate, you'll never win the Greenpeace Prize (if ever there is such a thing). Your farmers (and farm directors/owners/managers, for that matter) are turning blue skies grey, and setting green fields ablaze with a deep orange glow.
Is Indonesia so poor that the government cannot provide these farmers with paper and colour pencils or crayons, so that they can play around with colours? Surely the real sky and land should remain the colour God created it.
Let me show you:
This is the colour of the sky.
This is Indonesia's idea of sky.
This is the colour of land.
This is Indonesia's idea of land.
Just in case politics is getting in the way, let me assure and remind you that the atmosphere knows no human boundaries. Whatever you release into your air, gets carried over to Malaysia, Singapore and the surrounding region. You can draw terrestrial and aquatic bounderies, but unfortunately no one tells dust particles which way to go.
It might have been fun last year, giving us the impression that Genting Highlands had suddenly come to visit the lowlands. It sure looked like cool mist, except it was neither cool to the skin, nor pleasing to the eye.
But this time around, your farmers have gone too far. Fernando Alonso seems poised to win a back-to-back World Championship title in Formula One. Is Indonesia trying to win a back-to-back record for air pollution? Well, here's the news: you've already won!
Perhaps the governments of Malaysia and Singapore aren't launching a direct attack on Indonesia's government, for diplomatic reasons. I don't know. But what I do know is this: while the governments are wasting their time, the people are coughing and choking.
How would you like the Greenpeace activists to stop releasing artificial smoke outside Indonesian government offices, and start using poison gas instead? Perhaps that would be an interesting new way to buka puasa.
Speaking of buka puasa, you would do well to remember that Muslims are not even permitted to drink during the fasting month of Ramadan. It would therefore be very helpful to maintain good air quality so as not to cause stress to the respiratory systems of people in both your country and ours.
Indonesia is part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, and area known for volcanoes and earthquake fault lines. Who would've ever guessed that the forest fires of Sumatra and Kalimantan would further consolidate Indonesia's position in this Ring of Fire?
Well, I can't stay long here. I have better things to do than spend the whole night levelling criticisms at the leader of a country. But just because Indonesia is big, doesn't mean there's lots of air space for open burning.
In case your jakun farmers still have some burning need to see fire and smoke, we would like to invite them to come and join our Hari Raya and Deepavali celebrations.
As you may know, Deepavali is the Fesival of Lights, and there'll be fire in oil lamps. As for smoke, I'm sure the fumes from satay and char kuay teow stalls will do a good job of whetting your appetites and providing a friendly environment for much camaraderie amongst your people and ours.
Thank you for your time. I hope I can also thank you for your concern.
A suffocating neighbour