Haze spoils experience of tourists in Singapore
Tourists hoping to enjoy sunny Singapore are disappointed by the thick haze blanketing the country
The reputation of sunny Singapore as a tourist destination is taking a beating with the gloom brought on by the haze.
Take Indian national Ramya Sivaramakrishnan whose four-day break in Singapore has been ruined by the smog.
The New Paper team spotted her pushing a pram with her crying, sick daughter at Gardens by the Bay.
The toddler was coughing and having trouble breathing due to the haze.
"It's so disturbing. Not only do my eyes and throat feel irritated, but for the past three days here, I couldn't take my daughter to Sentosa," said Madam Ramya, 33, who is here with her daughter, husband and mother.
The Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) level yesterday reached a new high this year of 211 - very unhealthy range - at midnight.
The TNP team visited Marina Bay Sands, Gardens by the Bay, Orchard Road and Singapore Botanic Gardens to talk to those affected by the haze.
Across from Marina Bay Sands, Swiss national Andrew Tritz, who is on a 12-day stay in Singapore, was clearly frustrated with his inability to snap clear scenic shots of the iconic Singapore skyline.
The 25-year-old said that it was only his second day here and the haze was already a problem.
But even if the haze worsens, he said he would continue going to outdoor places just to make the trip worthwhile.
Mr Julian Veber, 21, a tourist from Luxembourg, said that the haze had hit his father hard.
His 55-year-old father, who has lung problems, experienced breathing difficulties that caused him to walk slower even in indoor areas like The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands where they were spotted.
It also stopped them from outdoor activities such as going to Universal Studios Singapore on Sentosa.
An Indonesian visitor who wanted to be known only as Madam Theodora, 54, an accountant , said her flight from Jakarta to Singapore was delayed for 25 minutes on Tuesday because of the haze.
She added that the haze was rather bad here but was unprepared when she landed as she did not have a mask with her.
She said: "The people who are causing the haze are troublemakers, now others are suffering because of them."
Despite the hazy view across Marina Bay Sands, two local students braved the conditions to perfect their paintings of the Singapore skyline.
Miss Jolene Quek, 20, a second-year engineering student from the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD), and Miss Clara Soh, 20, a second-year occupational therapy student from Nanyang Polytechnic, sat on the ground outside Marina Bay Sands for more than two hours, sketching and painting a clear Singapore Skyline - a far cry from the hazy conditions.
As Miss Quek looked at her painting, she said: "We shouldn't let the haze affect our lives".
The haze has put a dampener on businesses, big and small.
Ms Irene Lim, a 50-year-old helper at an ice-cream stall on Orchard Road, noticed that there were fewer customers patronising the stall due to the haze.
As people streamed into indoor areas, open-air diners and businesses saw a decrease in customers.
Miss Nicole Robert, 21, an employee of South Coast, an Australian bistro and bar at The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, said that there was a 20 per cent drop in customers during the peak lunch hours yesterday.
Some sports events were also affected.
Ultimate frisbee player Matthew Seong, 22, a second-year engineering student in SUTD, said the Singapore University Games initiated by the Singapore University Sports Council had to be cancelled.
The Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League match between title rivals Albirex Niigata and Tampines Rovers was also called off.
The game was scheduled to kick off at 7.30pm at the Jalan Besar Stadium.
It was initially delayed but the three-hour PSI reading yesterday steadily rose from 160 at 6pm to 193 at 9pm.
The game was called off at 9.08pm.
NEA: Reduce outdoor activity
The air quality forecast for the next 24 hours is expected to be in the low to mid sections of the unhealthy range, and may further deteriorate if the winds are unfavourable, said the National Environment Agency (NEA).
Healthy persons should reduce prolonged or strenuous outdoor physical exertion, the NEA said in a health advisory.
The elderly, pregnant women and children should minimise prolonged or strenuous outdoor physical exertion, while those with chronic lung or heart disease should avoid prolonged or strenuous outdoor physical exertion.
Those who are not feeling well, especially the elderly, children and those with chronic heart or lung conditions, should seek medical attention.
Singapore conveys 'deep concern' to Indonesia
Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan conveyed Singapore's deep concern with the deteriorating haze situation to his Indonesian counterpart yesterday.
Speaking to Minister of Environment and Forestry Siti Nurbaya Bakar, Dr Balakrishnan called for urgent actions to be undertaken, including stricter enforcement against the perpetrators.
He also requested information on those responsible so as to facilitate appropriate enforcement action.
At the 17th Meeting of the Sub-Regional Ministerial Steering Committee (MSC) on Transboundary Haze Pollution on July 28 in Jakarta, the ministers noted that Asean Leaders had encouraged MSC countries to share information on hotspot areas that cause transboundary haze.
Dr Balakrishnan reiterated Singapore's offer of an assistance package for Indonesia and stands ready to assist Indonesia in its haze- and fire-combatting efforts.
The assistance package includes:
- One C-130 aircraft for cloud seeding operations.
- Up to two C-130 aircraft to ferry a Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) fire-fighting assistance team.
- An SCDF team to provide assessment and planning assistance to its Indonesian counterparts in fire-fighting efforts.
- High-resolution satellite pictures and hotspot coordinates.
- One Chinook helicopter with one SCDF water bucket for aerial fire-fighting.