Monday, October 9, 2006

cotton skies

Today as I took my daughters to school I felt that creeping sensation again, one that I have been feeling every day for a while now. The feeling that the sky is no longer up there but right here, just a few feet off my shoulder, bearing down on me like death.

Mornings are usually either bright blue and yellow with the sun or clouded and wet, but it's not often there's no sky or sun or rain at all, just oppressive, brown-grey cotton wool between us and space.

Moving through KL during the haze is like wading through murky brown water. Today was particularly bad. It really felt like the huge wide expanse of the Ulu Klang highway had become a corridor in a building with a fire burning somewhere. Visibility was down to maybe 500 metres. Everything was sepia toned. After I got home I realised that maybe I shouldn't have sent the girls to school.

Today an article in the paper quoted that schools could choose to close if the API rose above 300. First, I doubt we are getting real API indices published or broadcast. Second, how on earth is a school going to close during the day. That's hundreds of parents to call etc. But if they decide to close the next day, so what? Today is the crap day! Tomorrow might be clearer.

Then, again, homeschooling suddenly becomes a very attractive temptation. Only thing is, I would never be able to dedicate myself to my children's education the way their teachers do, bless their souls. Not unless I'm getting paid something ridiculous (oh, wait, that's what the teachers are getting. Sorry, I meant something really worth the value of my dedication)

I was reading Patrick's post about the haze and on-the-road vacation carnage that always seems to happen this time of year. He's right, nobody really cares because there are no real consequences to our actions.

So here we are telling each other to "berbudi" when we're really forgetting ourselves and who we can be. People with heart who care for something and are willing to do something about it. Why aren't the authorities acting on it? We can claim corruption and so on. But unless the authorities - who have been put in place by the people, don't forget - feel that they are answerable to their people, they're going to move at their own pace. If all the public complained to them about the haze, if everyone stopped going to work because of it, then maybe people up above would realise that they have to get down to business. There's power in having your say, especially altogether.

So I thought I'd look for avenues where everyone can have their say quickly and all together. I could only find a public complaints form on the Dept of Environmental Health section of the Health Ministry webpage. You have to download, print, then FAX it! Actually, I think you have to mail it because the form has no discernible marks identifying it as government-issue complaint form, nor does it comes with a fax number - though you can get that on the webpage. It is basically notepaper than someone hastily typed "Name" "fax no" "Email" on.

When I find another alternative, I will let you know. Meanwhile, throwing water off the top of a building or wearing a face mask isn't going to solve the real problem, which is greed. The cheapest way to clear palm oil land is to burn it. And what for? To grow more crops to yield the products we use all the time, like fuel, cosmetics, and god knows what.

C

2 comments:

Lizzam said...

I was taken aback when I saw the form. I wrote something about it...thanks to you..hope you don't mind

mamasan said...

I know, it says something about their opinion of the people they are serving, doesnt it?

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