Painting the Town Grey: Songs of the Singapore Haze

Posted on June 20, 2013


not really a haze photo, but hey | foto@me

not really a haze photo, but hey | foto@me

It’s that time of the year again when Singaporeans suddenly remember there’s this place called “Kalimantan” where things are burning, and it sucks cos the air gets smoky and shit, and why isn’t the government doing anything, and how come we still have to go to work. Where is that stupid Kalimantan anyway? Is it near Lake Toba and Batam?

In the meanwhile, I imagine it must be a reunion-like event for the staff of the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources and their counterparts over at Kementerian Kehutanan Republik Indonesia (Ministry of Forestry). Maybe they have a Haze New Year Luncheon to get their months of heavy interaction off to a good start. At the end of it (i.e. when the smoke clears and Facebookers go back to complaining about their own governments again) I hope both governments sponsor a serious gala dinner. Foglights and respirators and anti-depressants in the swag bag etc. In addition, I am imagining two smoke-crossed lovers in each respective ministry, separated by national loyalty and… umm… lack of Groupon tickets to Kalimantan (?) who only meet for a few smokin’ months each year, where they fan the flames of their love in hotel conference toilets, stoking the fires of… Ok lah, I know the two ministries don’t actually meet, ok?

But jokes aside, seriously, I don’t think we are living in the mo’ and basking in the possibilities quite enough. Apart from lending our sunny city a nice romantic haziness, the reduced visibility also makes everyone look slimmer and younger. Why, I can barely even see the pimples that the haze brought on! Does the haze put anyone else in mind of lingering, choking rendezvous in bomb shelters, or is it just me?

With burning lurve in mind, and in celebration of bilateral relations, I’ve decided to do some matchmaking of my own, since everyone else is in a bizarre bad mood. (What’s cooking, sisters?) Something else I’ve also been doing is following news coverage on the beloved be-particled air. Since I am a Pop Pony, I’ve also decided to compile some of my favourite news hazed-lines and set them to appropriate music. Environment Ministry staffers shouldn’t be the only ones to get sexy.

Pairing One:

First, in case you’ve been living under a rock, or maybe just not in Singapore, here’s a brief introduction to the cross-border smokin’.

“Indonesia Fires Bring Haze to Singapore”, The Straits Times, 20 April 2013

should go on no-obligation date with

“It’s a Fire”, Portishead

The mince-no-shit, this-is-your -fault Straits Times headline and the Bristollian electro-triphoppers gave it to us straight. (What’s that flickering orangey shit that sends smoke to Singapore and Malaysia? Portishead: It’s a Fire. Who brought the haze to Singapore? ST: Indonesia.) It’s always good to lay all cards on the table early in the romance. Well done, Straits Times & Portishead. Very succinct. Still, we know that this relationship is short-lived:

this life is a farce
I can’t breathe through this mask
Like a fool
So breathe on, sister breathe on

Meh, why you mock us, Beth Gibbons?

Pairing Two:

S’pore leaders want firms causing haze to be named“, Today Online, 18 June 2013

should have hot sex but remember to use a condom with

“Firestarter”, Prodigy

Woahh you already know this is gonna be one hell of a fiery pairing. They have hot, hot sexual chemistry but they’ll also burn down the forest while they’re at it. Today Online is like, “YOU KNOCKED ME UP THIS IS YOUR BABY I WANT MAINTENANCE AND CHILD BENEFITS!!!!” and Liam Howlett is all, “I’m the father firestarter – YEAH SO MAKE ME.”

Pairing Three:

Haze: Protecting Your Baby“, BabyCenter Singapore, post date not mentioned

can have reproductive sex with

“Baby’s On Fire”, Brian Eno

Well they both talk about babies, so they have that in common. BabyCenter is a practical, health-tip-reading parent and Brian Eno, while having a secret dark side (“look at her laughing | like a heifer to the slaughter”) will probably be supportive as well in his own way. He’ll “dance at Chico’s”, empty the ashtrays and pocket the tips. At least the baby will be protected from the side-effects of the haze and fed on Chicos-style earnings.

Pairing Four:

Southeast Asian Haze: Who’s to Blame?“, The Real Singapore, 18 June 2013

will bicker to death but refuse to break up with

“We Didn’t Start the Fire”, Billy Joel

Because fighting and making up is so fun! Everyone loves a blame-game debate, especially when there’s awesome beat-heavy name-dropping to go with it from a guy who remembers everything you did and can rattle them off without pausing to catch his breath.

Pairing Five:

All. These. Straits. Times. Headlines.

is soul-mates and should elope with

“Every Planet We Reach is Dead”, Gorillaz

“Historical high”! “PSI soared to record level”! “Hits new high”! “Worst since 1997”! And my fav, “now on the verge of being very unhealthy”. No shit, sailor! Damon Albarn’s robot gang will not be outdone: “It’s getting hard to see the sun coming through… How are we going to work this out? What are we going to to? But what are we going to do?” ST’s Hazed-lines and Gorillaz never met a gloom they couldn’t doom further. Even Damon’s other band, Blur, has a matchy-matchy name with ST’s topic. This doom-mongering duo are so right for each other, but so wrong for everyone else.

Pair Six:

Hazepocalypse Sets Singapore Social Media Alight“, Asian Correspondent, 18 June 2013

should have a threesome with

The Haze – Bad for Health, Good for Business“, Breakfast Network, 19 June 2013


“Light Your Ass on Fire”, Busta Rhymes feat. Pharell

It’s all about the group-thinking and the group-loving. Singaporeans have bonded massively over complaining and re-re-re-posting Haze updates on social media and egging each other on in panic-buying. Of course, Busta has arrived on the scene to boost the baby count with his sexy talk of “I hope your ass bigger than Willona and Thelma | Listen, it’s Busta Rhymes bitch I ain’t never fail ya… Move girl I’ll light your ass on fire | Bitch I’ll light that ass on fire”. Awww, Busta! You are such an old school romantic.

So far, so loving, but unfortunately, there are also couples that didn’t quite stay the course.

Indonesia to Use Rain-Making Technology to Stop Fires“, Channel News Asia, 19 June 2013

just announced an acrimonious break-up with

“Great Balls of Fire”, Jerry Lee Lewis

These two, they just couldn’t see eye to eye. (And not just cos of the smoke.)

Stay safe everyone!