In spite of everything else you may read, as the world and his cousin know, the big news here in Indonesia is the haze which has spread from the ‘hotspot’ of fires set predominantly by the palm oil plantation concessionaires on peatlands and in forests in Sumatra and Kalimantan (Borneo).
The waffling from President Jokowi downwards has done little to ameliorate the situation, and neighbouring countries Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand have been rightly angered by VP Kalla’s arrogant statement that those countries should be grateful that Indonesia gives them clean air for eleven months of the year.
And the largest numbers of citizens affected with respiratory diseases have been the Indonesians living in close proximity to the clearances, not only from deaths, but also the closure of schools and airports.
It is only in the past couple of days that the government has asked for the offered help from the affected countries who are now, along with Russia, Korea and Australia, sending large water-bombing aircraft and other assistance to douse the fires.
Perhaps the last straw came when President Jokowi couldn’t fly to Jambi in Sumatra earlier this past week to see for himself what was going on, or wasn’t.
The airport was closed.
Or was it because the Republika newspaper took the bold step of ‘hazing’ its front page?