| SINGAPORE, June 20
SINGAPORE, June 20 Singapore called on Thursday
for "definitive action" from Indonesia as air quality stuck at
very unhealthy levels for a second day because of forest fires
in its neighbour, disrupting businesses in the prosperous
Work at several Singapore construction sites slowed with few
workers seen outdoors and fast-food operator McDonald's
suspended its delivery service. The Singapore military suspended
"No country or corporation has the right to pollute the air
at the expense of Singaporeans' health and wellbeing,"
Singapore's Environment and Water Resources Minister Vivian
Balakrishnan said on his Facebook page.
The chief of Singapore's National Environment Agency, Andrew
Tan, was heading to an emergency haze meeting convened in the
Indonesian capital, Jakarta, he said.
"We will insist on definitive action."
The illegal burning of forest on Indonesia's Sumatra island,
to the west of Singapore, to clear land for palm oil plantations
is a chronic problem, particularly during the June to September
Singapore, which prides itself on its clean environment and
usually enjoys clear skies, saw its air quality deteriorate to
unhealthy levels on Monday.
A pollution standards index (PSI) soared to a record high of
321 on Wednesday night, indicating air quality had deteriorated
to "hazardous levels".
The indicator later eased to 153, although visibility
appeared worse than it was on Wednesday when the readings were
higher. Singapore's apartment blocks were shrouded in a haze on
Thursday and the skyline was obscured.
A PSI reading above 300 indicates "hazardous" air quality,
while a reading between 201 and 300 means "very unhealthy".
The 321 level is above the previous 226 record reached in
Singapore in 1997 when smog from Indonesian fires disrupted
shipping and air travel across Southeast Asia.
Operations at Singapore's Changi Airport, a major Asian
aviation hub, have not been affected this time.
The haze from Indonesia has also shrouded parts of Malaysia.
Singapore's drug stores and supermarkets have run out of
face masks and residents have taken to social media to complain
about their giant neighbours and about the ineffectiveness of
the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) regional
grouping to do anything.
"ASEAN and its policy of non-interference in this matter of
severe transnational air pollution is akin to the police
catching an arsonist red-handed and letting him go scot-free,"
said Peh Sik Wee, chief strategic officer at Aidos Global, a
Indonesian officials have tried to deflect blame by
suggesting companies based in Singapore may be partly to blame
for the blazes. Singapore has said it wants Indonesia to provide
maps of land concessions so it can act against firms that allow
slash-and-burn land clearing.
"What we know is that there are several foreign investors
from Singapore involved," said Hadi Daryanto, a senior official
at Indonesia's Forestry Ministry.
"But we can't just blame them for this since we still need
to investigate this."
Singapore-based palm oil companies with land concessions in
Indonesia include Wilmar International Ltd, Golden
Agri-Resources Ltd and First Resources Ltd.
All three said on Wednesday they had "zero burning" policies
and used only mechanical means to clear land.
Cargill, whose Asia-Pacific regional hub is in Singapore,
said there were no fires on its plantations in South Sumatra and