LETTER | The media in the region and Malaysia need to rise to the occasion.
It seems that the government is doing all it can in the wake of this suffocating haze that has disrupted everyone's life.
Schools have been closed and hospitals were put on high alert, especially to treat those with asthmatic and lung-related problems.
Crops are being affected. There may be other side effects unascertained.
The country's economy is suffering too as people avoid going out, employees call in sick and flights are delayed.
But why is the government only now hitting the pedal to enforce the ban on open burning?
The haze didn't suddenly appear. It takes more than a few days or even a week of burning to blanket several nations with haze.
And let us not blame it on the winds.
It is also not because some residents in a kampung gathered the leaves from their compounds and burn the heap in the evening to drive away the mosquito menace.
It may not even be because some secret illegal dumpsite was set on fire.
Why is the government so reluctant to admit that large-scale land clearing and burning of many hectares of land over a long period are the primary cause of the haze blanketing entire nations?
What did the government do over these past months when the plantations were rampantly clearing and burning to save cost, increase their profits and generally, finding an easy way out to clear the land?
Is it impossible for those in the aviation sector to disclose or alert the local authorities as they zoom across the skies when hectares and hectares of land were set on fire?
Mind you, let the truth be told no matter how painful it can be. The nationwide haze dilemma is not happening for the first time. This has been happening again and again for years.
Yet, politicians have no shame in masking the truth and making it look like they are actually doing something.
They wear the mask of a good samaritan by telling citizens to go buy facemasks, drink plenty of water, stay indoors if possible, don't burn rubbish, and what have you.
We must call a spade a spade.
The government has failed miserably in caring for our fragile environment.
Economic gains for political expediency compelled the government to abandon the fundamental moral obligation to care for human life.
If you can crack the whip so loud to punish smokers, why can't the same be done to put a stop to all these mega-forest and plantation burning?
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.