No one has right to pollute air at Singaporeans' expense: Dr Balakrishnan

SINGAPORE - Environment and Water Resources Minister Vivian Balakrishnan has said in a strongly-worded statement on Facebook that "no country or corporation has the right to pollute the air at the expense of Singaporeans' health and wellbeing".

He posted the update at about 1am this morning, after a meeting with the press at about midnight.

"This is now the worst haze that Singapore has ever faced. And no country or corporation has the right to pollute the air at the expense of Singaporeans' health and wellbeing."

"The 3 hour PSI peaked at 321 at 10 pm on 19 June 2013. It has now come down to 218 at 1 AM. We expect the 24 hour PSI to increase overnight and may reach Very Unhealthy levels later this morning."

Dr Balakrishnan also mentioned that an "Inter-Agency Haze Task Force, which comprises 23 government agencies has been activated and is coordinating respective action plans".

He added that the Manpower Ministry will be providing an update to employers on Thursday about what to do. An emergency meeting has also been convened in Jakarta on Thursday.

"On the international front, we need urgent and definitive action by Indonesia to tackle the problem at source. Singaporeans have lost patience, and are understandably angry, distressed and concerned.

"Both Minister Shanmugam and I have earlier conveyed the seriousness and urgency of the situation to our respective counterparts in Indonesia. The CEO of NEA, Andrew Tan will be attending an emergency haze meeting convened in Jakarta tomorrow morning.

"We will insist on definitive action," wrote Dr Balakrishnan.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong also took to his Facebook page past midnight, adding that he will be meeting the relevant ministers today, and advised the public to "stay indoors where possible and avoid heavy outdoor activities" if the PSI stays high.

He added: "Look out for one another - we will get through this together."

candicec@sph.com.sg

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