Haze response: Whose responsibility is it?

Haze response: Whose responsibility is it?

The haze is here to stay.

That was one of the messages that came through from the press conference with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Thursday and subsequent briefings yesterday.

The authorities have emphasised the sheer scale of the problem and the difficulty in putting out the haze-causing fires in Sumatra.

With the prospect of clear skies anytime soon dissipating, the focus has now shifted to how Singaporeans can cope with the haze at home.

To that end, it is worthwhile considering a question about Singapore's response: Where does Government responsibility end and personal responsibility begin?

Just what do people expect from the Government in this situation?

Online, there has been no shortage of criticism on how the authorities have dealt with the smog. Some accuse the Government of a lack of leadership, others decry the fact that no stop-work order has been issued, while some have criticised the authorities for not issuing guidelines on everything from when to see the doctor to whether or not a mask is needed.

Among them are some valid points. The Government certainly has not acted as decisively nor communicated as effectively during this haze crisis as compared to the Sars outbreak in 2003.

Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen, who is now tasked to lead an inter-ministerial committee on haze said on Thursday that there are many more moving parts to keep track of here than in an outbreak.

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