Singapore 'worried haze from Riau will affect F1'

Straits Times 22 Jul 11;

JAKARTA: Singapore is concerned that haze from the forest fires in the Riau province of Sumatra will affect the Formula 1 Grand Prix that the Republic is scheduled to host in September.

'Singapore had already asked about the issue,' said Indonesian presidential special staff member for climate change, Mr Agus Purnomo, at a discussion on the conservation of palm oil at Hotel Borobudur in Jakarta on Wednesday.

'They are worried about the haze from our forest. They are afraid it will disturb the running of the Grand Prix,' he was quoted as saying on the Indonesian news website.

It is not clear whether he has offered any assurance to Singapore on the issue.

In recent months, haze from Indonesia has been affecting Malaysia and Singapore intermittently, with Malaysia taking the harder hit when its air quality reached unhealthy levels last week.

Singapore's 24-hour Pollutant Standards Index reading at 4pm yesterday was 42, which was within the good air quality range.

A reading from 50 to 100 indicates moderate air quality, while anything above 100 is deemed unhealthy.

The Formula 1 night race, to be held this year from Sept 23 to 25, is highly prized by Singapore for the tourism dollars and international exposure.

The Indonesian government has plans to recruit and dispatch 5,000 imams across the archipelago to discourage open burning and destruction of forests in a bid to battle the haze, according to the Jakarta Post.