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ESM Goh: "The Singapore Child is being suffocated"

Published on Jun 21, 2013 10:05 PM
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Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong is the latest Singaporean leader to weigh in on the thick haze that has enveloped Singapore. Posting on Facebook on Friday, June 21, 2013, the former prime minister lamented the fact that PSI reading had broken another record by breaching the 400 mark. -- ST FILE PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong is the latest Singaporean leader to weigh in on the thick haze that has enveloped Singapore.

Posting on Facebook on Friday afternoon, the former prime minister lamented the fact that PSI reading had broken another record by breaching the 400 mark.

"The Singapore Child is being suffocated. How can he not scream?" he said, a possible oblique reference to remarks from an Indonesian minister saying that Singapore's reaction to the haze was childish.

He went on to talk about the neighbourly spirit he hope the Indonesians would adopt. Mr Goh borrowed an analogy from former Malaysian prime minister Abdullah Badawi, who had said that Malaysians and Singaporeans are like neighbours living in a pair of semi-detached houses.

"What each does will affect the other. So we have to be considerate in our behaviour like not putting on the TV too loudly or burning our garden refuse openly if the smoke will enter our neighbour's house," said Mr Goh.

He added: "Indonesia does not share a semi-detached house with Malaysia or Singapore. But its detached bungalow is in the same housing estate. So Badawi's analogy of neighbourly behaviour still applies."

And while acknowledging the challenge of putting out widespread fires at this point, he said that Singaporeans will have to learn to live with the smog for now.

"Forest and peat fires are not easy to put out. They are not like our lalang or bush fires, small and confined. They burn and smoulder over thousands of acres in remote places far from the reach of fire fighters. So it is best to prevent man-made, illegal fires from being started in the first place.

"But as of now, the Singapore Child better learn to survive the tortuous smog and haze."