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A Domestic Solution for Transboundary Harm: Singapore’s Haze Pollution Law

  • Mahdev MOHAN

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Assistant Professor of Law, Singapore Management University. The author is grateful for the research assistance of Amber Estad and Siraj Shaik.

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1 ‘$47b? Indonesia counts costs of haze’, 11 Oct 2015, http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/47b-indonesia-counts-costs-of-haze (accessed 25 April 2017).

2 ‘What causes Southeast Asia’s haze?’ BBC News (26 October 2015) http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-34265922 (accessed 25 April 2017).

3 ‘Haze in Singapore: A Problem Dating Back 40 Years’, The Straits Times (2 October 2015), http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/environment/haze-in-singapore-a-problem-dating-back-40-years (accessed 25 April 2017).

4 Haze: One-hour PM2.5 reading soars to 442’, The Straits Times (20 October 2015), http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/haze-one-hour-pm25-reading-soars-to-442 (accessed 25 April 2017); Malaysia, Brunei and parts of Thailand were also similarly affected.

5 On the PSI scale, a reading of 100 PSI is considered ‘unhealthy’ and anything greater than 300 PSI is ‘hazardous’.

6 ‘Schools to close on Friday due to worsening haze situation: MOE’, Channel News Asia (24 September 2015), http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/schools-to-close-on/2147982.html (accessed 25 April 2017); ‘Sports events in Singapore, Malaysia cancelled due to haze’, Rappler.com (3 October 2015), http://www.rappler.com/world/regions/asia-pacific/indonesia/english/107995-sports-events-cancel-haze (accessed 5 May 2017).

7 Singapore Parliamentary Debates, Official Report (12 April 2016) vol 94 (Mr Masagos Zulkifli BM, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources); see also, MEWR and NEA Factsheet on Measures Against Haze, 2016, available at http://www.nea.gov.sg/docs/default-source/corporate/COS-2016/ep1--updated---cos-2016-media-factsheet---thpa-and-green-procurement.pdf (accessed 25 April 2017).

8 Trail Smelter Arbitration (USA v Canada) (1941), RIAA, vol III (1938) 1911, 1965.

9 Staff, Science and Environmental Health Network, 26 January 1998 (Wingspread Conference on the Precautionary Principle).

10 Principle 2, UN Rio Declaration on Environment and Development 1992.

11 ‘Singapore Aims to Prosecute Indonesian Polluters under Haze Law’, Bloomberg (10 June 2016), http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-06-10/singapore-aims-to-prosecute-indonesian-polluters-under-haze-law (accessed 25 April 2017).

12 ‘The Effects of Haze on Health, the Economy and the Environment, Youth Against Climate Change (5 November 2014) https://unfcccecosingapore.wordpress.com/2014/11/15/the-effects-of-haze-on-heatlh-the-economy-and-the-environment/ (accessed 25 April 2017).

13 Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: Implementing the UN ‘Protect, Respect and Remedy’ Framework, Annex to A/HRC/17/31 2011. Also, the right to health protection is, amongst the economic, social and cultural rights, most closely connected with environmental protection and application of the precautionary principle. In the Preamble to the Constitution of the World Health Organization (WHO), health is defined as follows: ‘health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity’, available at http://www.who.int/governance/eb/who_constitution_en.pdf (accessed 25 April 2017).

14 See Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, p. 6 (2011).

15 Veinla, Hannes, Precautionary Environmental Protection and Human Rights (2007) XII Juridica International Law Review 9199 .

16 Singapore Parliamentary Debates, Official Report (4 August 2013) vol 92 (Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources).

17 KC Vijayan, ‘Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon: Haze Law a local solution to issues across the border’, Straits Times, 20 September 2014.

18 ‘Singapore cannot enter Indonesia’s legal domain on forest fire issues: Forestry Minister’, Channel News Asia (14 June 2016), http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/singapore-cannot-enter/2869346.html (accessed 25 April 2017).

19 Singapore Parliamentary Debates, Official Report (4 August 2013) vol 92 (Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources).

20 ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution (signed on 10 June 2002 in Malaysia, entered into force 25 November 2003).

21 Catarina de Albuquerque, Human right to safe drinking water and sanitation, A/68/264 para 46 (2013).

22 The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, General Comment 15, The right to water, E/C.12/2002/11 para 31 (2003).

23 Lee, JSH, Jaafar, Z, Tan, AKJ, Carrasco, LR, Ewing, JJ, Bickford, DP, Webb, EL and Koh, LP, ‘Towards clearer skies: Challenges in regulating transboundary haze in Southeast Asia’ (2015) 55 Environmental Science and Policy 87 , 90.

24 AKJ Tan, 2015b, The ‘Haze’ Crisis in Southeast Asia: Assessing Singapore’s Transboundary Haze Pollution Act 2014. NUS Law Working Paper Series, Working Paper 2015/002.

25 Maureen Harris, ‘A Matter of Rights in the Future of the Mekong’, 22 December 2016, https://www.internationalrivers.org/blogs/721/a-matter-of-rights-in-the-future-of-the-mekong (accessed 25 April 2017).

26 Maureen Harris, Landmark Report Promotes Human Rights in Transboundary Investments, 10 June 2015, https://www.earthrights.org/blog/landmark-report-promotes-human-rights-transboundary-investments (accessed 25 April 2017).

27 See note 7, MEWR and NEA Factsheet, p.3.

28 ‘Haze-linked firm opaque with information’, The Straits Times (3 March 2017).

29 ‘NEA sends notice to 6th Indonesian firm over haze’, Channel News Asia (12 October 2015), http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/nea-sends-notice-to-6th/2187688.html (accessed 25 April 2017); ‘NEA obtains court warrant against director of Indonesian company with suspected haze links’, The Straits Times (11 May 2016), http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/environment/nea-obtains-court-warrant-against-director-of-indonesian-company-with (accessed 25 April 2017).

30 See note 13, p. 25.

31 ‘Indonesia reviewing cooperation with Singapore in environment, forestry matters: Report’, Channel News Asia (15 May 2016), http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asiapacific/indonesia-reviewing-cooperation-with-singapore-in-environment-fo-8009394 (accessed 5 May 2017).

32 ‘Singapore Aims to Prosecute Indonesian Polluters under Haze Law’, Bloomberg (10 June 2016), http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-06-10/singapore-aims-to-prosecute-indonesian-polluters-under-haze-law (accessed 25 April 2017).

33 THPA, sec 5(2)(a).

34 ‘Singapore pressures Indonesia to identify firms behind haze’, Reuters (18 June 2013), http://www.reuters.com/article/us-southeastasia-haze-idUSBRE95G09F20130618 (accessed 25 April 2017); ‘Ministers agree to share hot spot info’, The Straits Times (29 July 2015), http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/ministers-agree-to-share-hot-spot-info (accessed 25 April 2017).

35 ‘Transboundary Haze Pollution Act Not About National Sovereignty: MEWR’, Channel News Asia (15 June 2016) http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/transboundary-haze/2874888.html (accessed 25 April 2017).

36 Zubaidah Nazeer, ‘Zero tolerance for illegal land burning, vows Yudhoyono’, Straits Times, 6 May 2014.

37 ‘Indonesia pledges to protect peatlands to fight climate change, haze’ Reuters, 6 December 2016.

38 ‘Quarterly Highlight: Corporate legal accountability and haze in Indonesia’ (2016) 22 Corporate Legal Accountability Quarterly Bulletin.

39 ‘Indonesia’s Sampoerna Agro fined record sum for 2014 forest fires’, Reuters, 15 August 2016.

40 ‘“Yes” to law on transboundary haze’, AsiaOne (23 February 2014) http://health.asiaone.com/health/health-news/yes-law-transboundary-haze (accessed 25 April 2017).

41 ‘Chief Justice moots making clean environment a stated right’, Malay Mail Online, 13 January http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/chief-justice-moots-making-clean-environment-a-stated-right#sthash.9inTpWAT.dpuf (accessed 25 April 2017).

* Assistant Professor of Law, Singapore Management University. The author is grateful for the research assistance of Amber Estad and Siraj Shaik.

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