More hazy days to come

Air quality here improved on Sept 17 due to a change in the wind direction, but don't be too happy yet. Air quality that day was moderate, an improvement from the unhealthy levels of smoke that blanketed western Singapore on Sept 15. Then, the Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) - a measure of air quality here - had exceeded 100 and crossed into the unhealthy range, the first time since April this year.

But in the National Environment Agency's (NEA) weather outlook for the remainder of the month, it warned that Singapore could experience occasional slight haze on a few days due to periods of consecutive dry weather in the region - characteristic of the south-west monsoon season Singapore is now experiencing.

Meanwhile, Singapore has welcomed the Indonesian parliament's move to ratify the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution - a move officials hailed as a new chapter in the country's efforts to take a stronger lead in tackling an annual problem that has irked residents in affected areas and neighbouring countries.

All nine parties in the outgoing parliament backed a Bill to ratify the agreement, 12 years after Indonesia signed it alongside the other nine ASEAN members - but failed to win approval for it from MPs until recently.

Singapore's Environment and Water Resources Ministry said in a statement on Sept 16 that the ratification was timely, given the recent spike in the number of hot spots in Sumatra and Kalimantan.

Under the terms of the treaty, countries have to cooperate in taking measures to prevent, monitor and mitigate the haze by controlling the sources of fires, in exchanging information and technology, and in helping one another manage outbreaks.

Get a copy of tabla! for more stories.