Dear SBY: I am a huge fan of you. I voted for you to be the next Indonesia president – in my heart. The same thing I did for Obama years later. Guess what? Both of you have won. I knew somehow, by the power of the invisible universal linkages, my vote counts. Anyway, back to the purpose of this letter. As you may know by now that Indonesia is again on fire. And Singapore is hence in smoke. In Spanish, there is a saying: no hay mal que por bien no venga. That roughly translates to without bad things, good things won’t come. Or in English, every haze has a silver lining. It is true. The other day, my wife and I got into our car, drove out of our condo, and under a thick blanket of haze I pointed at the sky and exclaimed, “Look at that orange salted egg yolk in the sky!” It was beautiful. National Geography should visit Singapore for a special tour. Just like what they did for Australia when the sandstorm appeared not too long ago. We debated what it could be. Cynthia said it was the sun. I said it was the moon and later on corrected myself that it should be the planet Mars.
I read with great interest that in your world, your people set fire on land in order to create land space for agriculture and what not. I turned to my wife from Indonesia one evening and asked, “Why not chop the trees and sell the wood instead of burning them away?” I am a big fan of deforestation. I think we have way passed the point of no return as far as global warming is concerned. Cynthia’s immediate reaction was that it is much effective and efficient to use fire. In normal days, if Singapore was 10,000 km away from your country like we to Spain, I would not even care the why and the how. Like Madagascar that has lost 90% of the original forest due to human activities such as slash-and-burn farming. Do you care? Do I care?
I cannot argue with the fact that this haze that lingers despite the heavy downpour we have in Singapore has created some of the most romantic atmosphere. This dusk, while I was driving on the highway, under the orange color street lamps, I could see rows and rows of orange spheres floating meters above the ground diffused onto each other. What a beautiful yet unusual sight! Some cars turned on the fog light, which in normal days I would have cursed upon their inconsiderate act of hurting my eyes while trying to look cool. But today, I felt the necessity, for better road safety. Still, there was a terrible accident on the highway. One car was sandwiched by two taxis. Was it something to do with the haze? Nobody knows. When will the haze disappear? Nobody knows. Will your people finally try other ways to create fields? You tell me. Nobody knows.
On a lighter topic, I am often intrigued by Indonesia politics. I like the president who could not see. I also like the president who was a housewife. Out of all the presidents you have, the picture of Habibie holding a shoe inside his car is my favorite. It was featured on the newspapers around the world. If I remember correctly, he had visited a local market, bought himself a pair of Indonesian made shoes, and the message he was trying to convey was: buy local. I wish Singaporean could do the same. The other day, I was eying on the World of Warcraft Headset proudly produced by a Singaporean based manufacturer called Creative. It features a – allow me to quote from the brochure – professional grade microphone, ensuring everyone can hear your shout of “Heal Me! Heal Me!” in all of its resonant glory. I want it bad. But when I compare the price in Singapore with the same headset that is sold in America, it is still cheaper to import from US than to buy local. Imagine the carbon footprint involved! Whenever I ponder upon this, the imagine of Habibie pops up in my head, with him holding out his shoe inside his car mouthing: buy local. What do you think? Shall I import the headset from US, save some money, and screw the environment?
Where was I? Oh, I remember. I am writing to petition on behalf of all the residents including my mother-in-law and my relatives who live next to Bandung Supermal. Ever since the arrival of a mall – which I must say, it looks grand and suiting to the most beautiful city in Indonesia – the residents have been under severe water shortage problem. I sincerely hope that you could personally look into this matter and have it resolved asap. Because Cynthia and I are planning to visit Bandung later this year. I still wish to shower with water, twice a day.