PM Lee lists priorities in tackling haze

PM Lee lists priorities in tackling haze

SINGAPORE - Mr Lee warned that it was hard to tell how the haze situation would develop. It could last for a few weeks, or even until Sumatra's dry season ends in September. He said: "We will need to adapt our response to suit the changing situation, and protect ourselves in practical and sustainable ways."

Get the full story from The Straits Times.

PM Lee's press conference on haze, June 20

An edited transcript of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's the press conference on haze

PM Lee: Good afternoon, everybody. We are here because of the haze, we are all affected by it and today I'd just like to share how we would address the problem and also to explain to Singaporeans how each of us can protect ourselves and our families.

Haze is not a new problem for us in Singapore or for Malaysia, our neighbours, but this episode is more recent than what we have experienced in recent years. This afternoon, the three-hour number or the PSI reached 371 - it's come down a little bit since then - which is a new high. If we look at the 24-hour number, the last reading at 2pm was in the range 175 to 207, which is in the unhealthy to the very unhealthy range, and our health advisories are based on the 24-hour PSIs.

So over the next few days according to our Met people, the wind and weather conditions are likely to stay about the same as they are today and so we expect the haze to persist for some time.

I think we know the source of the problem, which is illegal burning by errant companies in Sumatra. We're actively engaging the Indonesian government to solve the problem. Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam and Minister (for Environment and Water Resources) Vivian Balakrishnan have been in contact with their Indonesian counterparts, they spoke to them yesterday, and our CEO of the National Environment Agency, Andrew Tan, is in Indonesia today having a meeting with the Indonesian officials. And I am also writing to President Yudhoyono to register our serious concerns and to reiterate our offer to help Indonesia to solve this problem.

We've provided satellite hotspot data and images to the Indonesians to help them to identify the companies which are responsible, and some Indonesian officials have suggested that these errant companies may be linked to Singapore and Malaysia. So we've asked them for the evidence… and if any Singapore companies are involved or any companies which are present in Singapore are involved, then we will take up this matter with the companies.

But our priority and my priority is to protect the health and safety of Singaporeans, and especially of the vulnerable groups like the young and the elderly and those who have heart or lung diseases, for example, asthma or COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). I think we can expect a higher incidence of respiratory diseases under these conditions; it happens every time, it's natural, and our Ministry of Health (MOH) medical system, the doctors, the polyclinics, the hospitals, they're all on alert and ready for this, to treat the patients.

So if anybody, if you fall ill or anybody you know falls ill and it's a respiratory problem particularly, please see your doctor or your GP promptly. And if anybody needs financial help with their medical expenses, we will make sure that it's available.

Haze continues to hover at dangerous levels on June 20
Click on thumbnail to view (Photos: ST, TNP, The Star, AFP, Reuters)

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