A pair of kidnapped Sumatran orangutans smuggled into the country three months ago are going home.
Bob and Citra were supposed to have been sold abroad as pets for as much as RM40,000 and now they were free to go back home to Medan. Hallelujah, and chalk one up for the good guys!
No, you didn’t see the two primates chortling with delight or prancing about in excitement. Instead, they looked grim, stern and somber.
According to the World Wildlife Association, both the animals are classified as a “critically endangered” species.
Bob and Citra weren’t grinning because they knew that their status had just been upgraded to “perilously” endangered as they were going back to Sumatra where the Air Pollution Index stood at over 2,000 give or take a carcinoma.
In Sumatra, everything that breathed was now classified as a perilously endangered species.
Indonesian vice-president Jusuf Kalla, never let his education get in the way of his ignorance, Kalla was unimpressed with haze grumbling and felt that Malaysia and Singapore were just natural-born bellyachers.
Snug in his office in faraway Jakarta which had never experienced the effects of any smog in Sumatra, he rapped both countries smartly. OK, smartly may not have been the right word.
“For 11 months they enjoyed nice air from Indonesia and they never thanked us,“ he said in an amazing display of incomprehensibility. Kalla was a tough and hard boiled politician who also happened to be half baked.
The Indonesian leadership seemed to think that the whole haze thing was exaggerated. Indonesian doctors agreed pointing out that tests on Sumatran arsonists had revealed traces of oxygen in their smog-streams. That conclusively proved that everything remained fine.
The republic had finally made it into the Guinness Book of World Records. Global research group World Resources Institute reported recently that Indonesian fires over the past two months had produced more greenhouse gases than the average daily emission from the entire United States economy.
That was saying something as the US was entering Election Year, a period when hot air emissions in the US generally rise sharply.
It was no joke. The institute cited a study on the Global Fire Emissions Database, which found that of the 44 days tracked from the beginning of September to the middle of this month, the daily emission from Indonesia’s fires exceeded that of the entire US economy in 26 days.
To keep things in perspective, the US economy is 20 times larger than Indonesia’s.
On another point of interest, a massive spike in emission occurred on Oct 14, when 4,719 fires were observed, the report said.
Brace yourself folks. The Indonesians told the Institute glumly that the smog would persist until early next year because “the scale of land clearing was much larger than usual.”
There goes Christmas. Let’s hope the fat guy with the red suit has GPS.
Auguste Rodin once noted that nothing was “a waste of time if you use the experience wisely.” Indonesia has proved otherwise. The haze, as a regional phenomenon, first surfaced in 1997. Eighteen years later, Jakarta is still giving excuses.
And now land clearing “is much larger than usual?”
It just proves that over 18 years, Jakarta has done precious little to educate, persuade, plead, cajole, entreat or threaten any of these errant farmers.
It can’t get any worse than that.