ST Forum: Haze in Singapore

10/22/2010. This was not published.
Dear Ms/Sir,
one of the ironies of the haze debate is that some plantation companies who may be benefitting from forest clearing and burning–directly or not–are domiciled in Singapore. By buying their shares, Singaporeans own part of these firms. It is analagous to the situation in Southern China, where Hong Kong firms build factories in Guangdong, earn bumper profits, and (occasionally) get smog in return.
Complaining every year to the Indonesian authorities will only do so much. Better still for Singaporeans to exercise their rights as shareholders and put pressure on these powerful firms. If all else fails, dump their shares. Otherwise, we are all guilty of a great inconsistency: profiting from these companies’ growth, but then blaming an understaffed government for their very actions.
After all, if a firm domiciled in Singapore, and partly owned by Singaporeans, is the one burning forests in Kalimantan, who is actually responsible for the haze: Indonesians? Or Singaporeans?