The policy options that the PAP government decided for handling the haze are in consistent with its usual pragmatic approach. In such a way it also reflects the good, bad and ugly sides of the PAP.
However its consistency with old (capitalist) practices also means it has not caught up with times. The usual pragmatic policy taken in the past caused no big problems for the old Singapore – citizens trusted the government, believed it could deliver and handled the situation well. However, with a new political norm, the policies and strategies that the government adopted recently seem to be a public relations failure. Issues of public (mis)trust and (loss of) confidence appear. People begin to ask whether the PAP can effectively solve the haze problem.
The PAP is the usual PAP. It has not changed. However, the people have changed with different demand and expectation. They want accountability for high salary ministers and senior civil servants. They want to see them coming out with creative and workable solutions – not like the past a haze problem can be unsolved for more than 20 years.
Here are some of the examples:
Reading of PSI and PM2.5
The questions are:- Whether we should use the maximum or the average of 24 hours.
- Whether we should give more emphasis to PM2.5 and why it is not widely published.
- Whether the published statistics are correct or edited
- Why stop work order is not announced when PSI hit more than 400.
- Both PSI and PM are outdated measurements.
Distribution of N95 masks
The questions are:
- Why the distribution cannot be done earlier and for free.
- Why it has to go through commercial organisations for profit making.
- Why must it go through PA, grassroots and PAP MPs?
Foreign policy failed
Singapore behaves like a child and ESM Goh’s reply is also like a child.
Alternative preventions and solutions
Different from the past, in the social media, there are advices on the health prevention and solutions to the haze problem. They may not all be correct or some may even cause confusing as claimed by the PAP. Nevertheless, more people are showing concerns for Singaporeans and our health. This means the active citizenship is still there but may not with the government.
Good, bad and ugly
If you are PAP supporters believed in mainstream media, you would give a good remark or an A grade to the PAP for handling the haze problem well. You believe in things of the past. The government has distributed the masks FOC to the lowest income families. They get in the army to help and ask businessmen not to make extra profits. They even form the inter-ministry Haze committee and protest to the Indonesian government by delivering a personal letter. And yes, they are doing or handling it no difference from the past – quick, efficient, well coverage in MSM, providing proper advice and assistance.
If you are a netizen or believe in alternative views, you will judge the government differently. Most likely you will give a bad score or an F grade to the PAP. If a problem can last more than 20 years or longer, it cannot be considered a problem anymore. Rather, it has become a certain happening. There is certainly a foreign policy failure as we have no control of the haze. We can blame it all to the Indonesian government but do we understand them well? Have we showed real and sincere concern about Indonesia and its people?
If you are a social activist or a person seeking social justice, the PAP is presenting its ugly side of its policy options. Outdoor working like construction under PSI400 and above is certainly very inhuman. Even the medical subsidy of $10 for haze related illness is insufficient, especially when you consider the long-term care and a prolonged haze problem.
The haze problem exposes the good, bad and ugly sides of the PAP. The problem now is how many people believe the PAP is handling the issue the right and effective way. The sudden disappearance of haze is due to the change of wing direction.
So, it is luck. Will the luck always at the side of the PAP or with the people? Or will the PAP like the lucky President who got elected by a very small margin? However, President Tan has noticed the full moon and the helping hands of Singaporeans. Haven’t you?