It is unfortunate that over the last two decades, diplomatic efforts have failed to bring any success in reducing the haze ("Bad haze expected, so new PSI roll-out moved up"; last Friday).
In fact, the situation is getting worse each year, and it is time to consider economic deterrents.
The proliferation of oil palm plantations is evident when one examines the locations of most hot spots.
These plantations, whether owned by large conglomerates or small holdings, will continue their slash-and-burn method of clearing land because it is the cheapest way.
Regardless of the extent of diplomatic pressure, businesses care about nothing except their bottom lines.
So, we have to use business tactics to stop slash-and-burn practices.
We should impose a 25 per cent "haze tax" on any product with palm oil constituents.
This will make palm oil less attractive to buyers.
Palm oil producers will have to show significant improvements in haze control measures before this tax can be lifted.
The tax collected can go into a fund to:
-Finance the purchase of planes and cloud-seeding equipment to create rain;
-Subsidise the purchase of air purifiers for the poor, especially the pioneer generation who suffer most when there is air pollution; and
-Launch an advertising campaign on the health hazards of the haze in Indonesian newspapers and media, especially newspapers distributed in Riau.
We have to fight greed with education.
These are some measures the Government can use to fight haze from the slash-and-burn tactics used by irresponsible plantation owners.
Jerry Tan (Dr)
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