THE effectiveness of regional organisations possibly can only be appreciated in times of crisis.
Millions of Asean citizens are suffering from respiratory ailments due to irritation caused by the microscopic particulates in the haze.
Apparently, the Air Quality Index for Kuching was the worst in the world on Tuesday, as it was above even Beijing’s and New Delhi’s.
Asean governments, in the meantime, have become dumb and mute and are unable to exert pressure on the Indonesians to take decisive action.
The Malaysian Prime Minister’s response, “I shall write a letter to Jokowi”, clearly shows the total lack of urgency and insensitivity in addressing a situation where hundreds of schools are shut down and children, elderly citizens and the vulnerable are seriously affected. So much for the test of leadership during trying times.
The Indonesian government needs to be censured for its lack of action in putting out the fires engulfing their forests, plantations and peat lands. This seasonal phenomenon has been going on for the past 10 to 15 years, yet the Indonesians are showing no remorse and a total absence of any sense of responsibility.
Millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money have been spent on Asean meetings at various levels year after year, and yet they (Asean leaders) have not been able to protect their citizens when the very air they breathe poses a threat to their health and well-being.
We urge the Malaysian leadership and all Asean heads of state to jointly speak with one voice and communicate the message that their inaction and irresponsibility are unacceptable.
BHASKARAN PILLAI , Shah Alam
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