There was a photo that went viral last week which shows the four seasons in Malaysia – durian, dengue, monsoon and the haze. For most Malaysians hit by the annual occurrence caused by the forest fires in Indonesia, the photo resonates.
Each year, the haze causes lots of disruption and hardship for Malaysians. Flights were cancelled or rescheduled, schools were closed, not to mention the health impact, especially on children, the elderly and those with respiratory problems. Businesses are also hit, especially those related to tourism or those operating from open spaces.
But each year, the problem returns although governments had promised to do something about it everytime this happens. There appears to be a lack of political will to tackle this problem at the root as the slash-and-burn forest clearing continues unabated.
I believe at the heart of the problem is whether or not we are prepared to sacrifice short-term gains for long-term benefits. If we continue taking a short-term view on the environment, we are going to pay a heavy price in the future.