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ECONOMY | Contributed Content, Singapore
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Jacky Tan

Here are depressing possible business threats from the Singapore haze

BY JACKY TAN

This morning, I woke up from the smell of haze smoke; my throat went dry and my eyes become uncomfortable. Last night (19 Jun 2013), Singapore reached the PSI (Pollutant Standards Index) level of 321, the worst so far in the history of my country.

The haze is caused by the irresponsible slash-and-burn land clearing activities from a few greedy palm oil plantation business owners located in the neighbouring Sumatra islands of Indonesia.

The haze problem, if it prolongs, may impose potential risks to some businesses in the following industry:

Tourism

The clean and green image of Singapore as a tourist destination may be affected. Famous outdoor attractions in the country may look gloomy and unattractive to the tourists. With the power of social media, bad word of mouth marketing may be quickly passed around from the unhappy tourists who are affected by the recent haze.

Food and Beverage

Many people may strike out the idea of alfresco dining for the time being. Nobody would want their food or drink to be added with some kind of "extra ingredients" from the smog. Hence, restaurant owners with much of their dining space outdoors, will be affected the most.  

Other Businesses

Companies in the construction industry may need to take extra care for their workers especially when the workers need to physically work long hours in the outdoor. Will productivity be affected? Possibly maybe. As health risk increases, the number of people taking medical leave may increase; while some employees, especially those with existing respiratory problems, may not be able to perform optimally as before.     

Overcoming the Haze

Despite the poor air quality, I still see hardworking individuals, some with their face masks on, making their way to their workplaces in the morning hours. Children walking to schools while the mothers are out doing their marketing. Business is as usual for most of us despite that hazy situation.

This is something I love about Singapore. We have come a long way as a nation, overcoming various challenges such as the SARS in 2003, the dengue, the economic crisis in 2008 and come what may; this haze is perhaps something that we can also overcome eventually.

And of course, we want the root cause of this haze problem (that is, the few irresponsible palm tree plantation owners) to be resolved once and for all too.

Just like what our environment minister, Mr Vivian Balakrishnan mentioned in one of his Facebook posts about his suggestion to the Indonesian Environmental Minister, "I suggested Minister Kambuaya name the companies responsible for the fires - (as I am sure consumers will know what to do)."

The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by Singapore Business Review. The author was not remunerated for this article.

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Jacky Tan

Jacky Tan

Jacky Tan is a professional marketing writer, blogger, speaker, and the author of 'Social M - How Your Startup Can Take On the Big Boys'. Jacky leads the boutique marketing communications and branding agency, Jack and Chaz Pte Ltd. He specialises in the creation of successful branding, content marketing and pr strategies for companies of any size.

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