We remember 2013 being the worst-hit of the haze problem in forever. Will 2014 top that? It’s almost impossible to avoid the haze; Singapore is a small nation and we are very much maneuvered by our neighboring countries. The forest fires that happened in Indonesia can cause a chain effect, affecting our country with undesirable wind direction. While Singapore is set to brace for upcoming months of high PSIs, we look at the Top 8 haze-related news of 2013.
1) 3M masks mania
The approved 3M masks were said to be able to combat some of the unhealthy effects brought about by the haze. Upon the news of worsening haze, the 3M masks were sold out at retail pharmacies. Wait-lists for the masks were long. This shortage also resulted in neighbourhood shops selling the 3M masks at black market prices. Many Singaporeans who were overseas also stocked up on the masks.
2) Indonesian Minister’s speech
Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Jero Wacik (centre) said that Malaysia and Singapore should “know themselves” and “don’t make noise to the world when things go bad.” His insensitive comment went viral and was largely condemned by many Singaporeans.
3) Brilliant wedding photoshoot
One of the most memorable photos that came out during the haze period, it certainly put a faint smile on our faces. The couple posted in a misty background of the iconic Marina Bay Sands, with the hand gestures of 172, the supposed PSI reading at that time of the photoshoot. This wedding shoot immediately became viral on the internet. I’m sure this is one photoshoot to remember.
4) NEA goes on Twitter
The haze situation got so bad that NEA stepped up in their game, offering updates on the PSI on Twitter. @NEASg became one of the more popular Twitter account during the period. NEA gives the average 3-hour PSI and the time it was issued, and The Straits Times official Twitter account also diligently retweeted it for the benefits of Singaporeans.
5) Highest PSI ever recorded
There were disputes on Twitter when NEA posted the 3-hour average PSI reading instead of the hour. The highest actual PSI reading ever recorded in Singapore was on 19 June 2013 at 9pm – at a shocking (gasps) 453. The NEA figure of 290 was the 3-hr average.
6) The philanthropic SG Haze Rescue
Started in mid-June in 2013, the SG Haze Rescue is an initiative started by a community of Singaporeans, to share resources and help families and inividuals in overcoming the haze. You can check out their Facebook page here.
7) When Jurong became straight out of the video-game, The Last of Us
A freak hailstorm hit the western part of Singapore so badly, it looked like a shot that came out from the popular video-game, The Last of Us. These images are taken from Jurong. Several trees were uprooted as a result of the storm. The storm came after a drought spell in Singapore prior to the haze. Thank God for the storm, the haze went away with it. More photos here.
8) The Indian lady that made the news online
Overnight fame for this Indian lady and her funny recount of the hailstorm in Singapore. The hailstorm is likely a result of the haze, which adds to impurities in the air and the vapour condensation process. The screenshot of the interview became a meme until today, and a remix of the song was up on YouTube here.
Writer: Leong Chee Sheng