Just a month ago, I did a story on Indonesia’s confidence in tackling haze resulted from forest fires, which usually happens annually in the country.

The editor put out a very convincing, if not provocative, title that there will be ‘less haze from forest fires for Indonesia this year’.

Unfortunately, I somehow have to correct it…..

For the past few weeks, haze stories filled up headlines everywhere, TV, newspaper, and even social media. I lost track.

Damaged peats in Katingan, Central Kalimantan, during my trip in 2010. These areas were used to be a part of One Million Peats for Rice Fields. (photo : Fidelis Green Blog)
Damaged peats in Katingan, Central Kalimantan, during my trip in 2010. These areas were used to be a part of One Million Peats for Rice Fields. (photo : Fidelis Green Blog)

A few updates that I manage to keep up were it’s getting worse, declining air quality, refugees, casualties, and transboundary haze.

So much for being confidence, huh?!

It’s not partly the government’s fault. They were aware of long dry season followed by El Nino phenomenon, in layman’s words, which is practically bringing more dry weather, up till September. But, men are just too proud and Mother Nature got really really upset.

They just never learn their lessons. “It is about raising awareness. It is about educating local people. It is about law enforcement. It is about forest management.” All those ‘business-as-usual’ quotes.

It’s sound simple, isn’t? But, we have been having these routine haze stories for 18 years! We should have been able to learn something from it?!

Mas Achmad Santosa, a prominent environmental law expert, who was actively engage in the issue in the UKP4 era, underlined three elements, prevention, extinguishing fires, and law enforcement, of which were lacking in performance from President Joko Widodo’s administration.

Santosa, who was ‘on fire’ stating his remarks to journalists, said that Minister of Environment and Forestry Siti Nurbaya was supposed to be the ‘conductor’ to tackle these issues.

She needs to work fast and effective engaging other important institutions, such as police, judge and prosecutor, to deal with law enforcement. At the same time, she must build a strong commitment with other ministries to back her up on prevention and extinguishing fires.

The bottom line is someone should take the leadership and get on with it! This is no time for another discussion. We got it wrong, so we need to fix it!

She got slipped a bit as when fires blazing, she had to go to Oslo, Norway, ironically, discussing on climate change under President’s instruction. (The irony is that Indonesia emits carbon more from its forest fires).

If only she has clone of her own….
Yet, the ugly truth is once these fires started out, especially in peats, you can only wait for Mother Nature to deal with it… At least, that was what Sarwono Kusumatmaja, chair of Climate Change Steering Committee, said on current forest fires.

He was right. The fires can be put down but the smokes are gonna be thick. Somehow, it means just brace yourself.

Writing this, I am not excluding the facts that many people have been impacted directly by smokes but also many have tried to put them out relentlessly. I have been reading many efforts from fire fighters, locals struggling to put them out. One news even reported a loss of life in the field.

I know that they are trying hard too. But, as this writing goes, I sincerely hope that there will be different approach to this issue. We’re missing out something here…. If policies are in order, if reasons are known, so why it keeps on happening. It’s either we’re missing something or we’re not doing it right.

You may be familiar with Einstein’s quote : don’t expect different results if you’re doing it the same way. I guess this applies to this case. Just be realistic, we have been doing the same routine for 17 years and nothing works. No one realize it???? Come on, we’re a great nation with great people, we can do better than this!

Lastly, I hope that this is not forgotten once rain coming down. That’s our jinx. We have chronic short memory loss as a nation. Seriously. I don’t want have to read this article to write another same story for next year.