The danger of sewing on a moving MRT train

From ‘Unsafe to sew on train’, 19 Nov 2015, ST Forum

(Tan Lay Hoon): Recently, I came across a young woman working on a piece of cross-stitch embroidery inside an SMRT train. She sat forward with a gap between her and the back of her seat, perhaps to facilitate the flow of her needlework movements.

The embroidery floss running through the needle was about 45cm long. I suggested to the woman that it could be dangerous to sew inside the confines of a moving MRT train. She replied that she had been sewing while riding in MRT trains for a long time and returned to her task. There were commuters seated on both sides of her.

While the train was relatively empty during the off-peak hour, sewing is not a safe activity to pursue inside a train that is travelling. At times, MRT trains lurch when moving or halting. If the woman is pulling the needle in an upward movement and is caught unexpectedly by a sudden staggering of the train, an involuntary jerk of the hand holding the needle may cause the needle to jab at a fellow commuter sitting or standing close by.

There will be very serious consequences if the needle impales an eye or other body part of a nearby commuter who could not move away in time. How can the injured commuter seek recourse?

If the SMRT’s regulations do not permit sewing inside MRT trains in operation, what is the appropriate action that a concerned fellow commuter can take in such a situation? By the way, what circumstances warrant an activation of the emergency communication button?

Thanks to this civic-minded writer, SMRT security will now have more things to check other than bulky haversacks suspected to carry bombs. Needles are notoriously difficult to search, let alone parangs. You could secrete them in your back pocket, your coin pouch or even pin them in your underwear. But maybe it’s not just needles but other deceptively harmless things with a pointy end that need to be looked into. With all the sudden jerking and staggering going on in the train, your vital organs could be impaled not just by cross-stitch instruments but pens, chopsticks, or the edge of a hardcover book. No wonder durians are banned. Recently I had some guy sketching with a pencil behind me. I was praying so hard the train didn’t jerk otherwise the nib would have penetrated my medulla oblongata.

If you are a chronic worrier practically anything could bring you to an early grave, not just sharp objects. Someone nodding away while sleeping could unwittingly cause head concussions. You may be a hit-and-run victim of that uncle on the motorised wheelchair. If you’re the extreme type who are especially good at estimating the length of sewing thread, even staying at home and avoiding the crowds could also be hazardous. You could fall off your bed and die, for instance.

I can imagine Tan Lay Hoon’s reaction if she ever saw someone wearing this massacre waiting to happen on the train below. Imagine the train braking to a screaming halt and this person careening into unsuspecting passengers. A total bloodbath. The world would send us condolences for this horrific accident. #prayformrt

Local invention called The Spike Away vest

You can’t activate the emergency button willy-nilly, of course, and SMRT has guidelines against inciting unnecessary panic and wasting everyone’s time.  If you ever push the panic button in the event of an impending needly holocaust, but not a single person is harmed by wayward cross-stitching, then slapping a fine on you is duly justified. The only thing being pricked then is your conscience.

Kampung spirit useful in rail failures

From ‘Rail failures: Kampung spirit can help’ 25 Oct 2015, article by Danson Cheong, Sunday Times

…”This is the kampung spirit that we must inculcate in every MRT station,” said Mr Khaw (Boon Wan), adding that Senior Minister of State for Transport Josephine Teo had suggested involving shopkeepers working in the station, so they can play a part in contingency plans.

“Such ‘family-ness’ will be important not just when there is a technical breakdown, but (will be) even more critical if there is a terrorist- led sabotage to our rail system,” he said. He added that he has asked the Land Transport Authority and transport operators to consider the suggestion.

The over-used ‘kampung spirit’ should be evoked only in reference to the ‘village mentality’, whereby neighbours look out for each other, where the doors are never locked, and you could always pop by your neighbour’s house if you ever run out of sambal belacan. When trains break down, you’re hoping for random acts of kindness from strangers, be they Singaporeans or foreigners. They’re not kampung kakis who you grew up playing chapteh with, soaking in the sun chewing lallang. They’re rush-hour passengers who want to get to their destination as desperately as you do.

Shopkeepers are more keen on making money out of stranded passengers than being honorary SMRT staff, and would rather stay behind their cashiers than risk exposing their shops to angry looting mobs. Now our Transport Ministry wants commuters to extend our homely altruism out of our estates into the public domain, so that we can have mass group hugs and singalong sessions on the free shuttle bus rides home during an MRT breakdown. We’re already having trouble keeping the ‘kampung spirit’ alive with our immediate neighbour, now we’re expected to heed the Minister’s call to summon it outside in sweaty work clothes because nothing else can be done to improve our travel experience besides deluding ourselves into ‘loving thy neighbour’.

Come, people, let’s see your ‘gotong royong’, from Pasir Ris to Jurong. Bring a spare umbrella to lend your fellow commuter while he’s forced to march along an overhead track during a breakdown! Keep a tumbler of home brewed green bean soup handy in case someone needs nourishment! Sing ‘Home’ out loud to lighten the mood when everyone is seething with murderous rage! Let’s exude this warm fuzzy feeling wherever we go, whether it’s outside our corridor, around the void deck, or on a shitty train ride home!

Still, where’s this ‘kampung spirit’ outside everyday common-man experience? Does it apply to our billionaires living in penthouses and Nassim Road mansions who zip around in supercars?  Maybe they give it a less ‘rustic’ sounding name, one that involves non-kampungish activities like sharing expensive wine by an indoor pool or loaning your butler to your neighbour while the family’s out holidaying at a private island luxury resort. It’s ironic that our Government bandies ‘kampung spirit’ around to inspire people to pick up trash, volunteer or endure train breakdowns, while at the same time destroying tight-knit heritage estates like Commonwealth’s Chap Lau Chu, thereby exorcising its ‘spirit’ all in the name of ‘redevelopment’.

Kindness in the midst of commuting madness is greatly appreciated of course. But it should be done solely out of compassion for fellow humans, not egged on by ministers who should be focusing on the root problem, rather than trying to soften ugly consequences with tired cliches.

Nude-less Playboy still banned by MDA

From ‘ ban in Singapore remains: MDA’, 14 Oct 15, article by Lee Gim Siong,  CNA

The ban on access to in Singapore will not be lifted, said the Media Development Authority (MDA) on Wednesday (Oct 14). The US-based magazine had announced on Tuesday that it will stop publishing nude photographs in its pages from February next year. The website had also stopped publishing nude images since 2014.

In response to queries from 938LIVE, the MDA also said that it is too early to comment on the revamped Playboy magazine, as it has yet to be launched.

The spokesperson added that remains on the list of websites which are symbolically blocked in Singapore, to signal the types of content which the community regards as offensive or harmful.

The majority of these websites are pornographic in nature, and this position on the Playboy website has been in effect since 1996.

Playboy’s shift of focus away from naked centrefolds spells the inevitable demise of the ‘girly mag’. Along with Singapore’s very own FHM, we men may no longer bond at the newstands pretending to be browsing golf monthlies but in fact peeking at the covers of dirty magazines. The Internet (more specifically, porn) has made the eponymous bunny and its celebrated flesh parade obsolete, just like how it has made MDA’s ‘honour roll’ of blacklisted websites redundant. Some of these ‘symbolically’ banned sites may not even exist anymore. Not sure if it still has ‘’ on it.

MDA’s taking a cautious ‘wait and see’ approach, naturally, but may find other reasons to stick to the status quo, like articles glamourising homosexuality, incest, bestiality or anything that goes against our conservative Asian values. No hot-blooded man is going to access for erotic essays of course, unless they’re doing so out of pure nostalgia, a misty-eyed throwback to the good old days of borrowing a semen-stained Playboy mag from your classmate for a few days and hiding it from your parents under your mattress. It wasn’t a ‘men’s magazine’ so much as a ‘boys to men’ magazine.

Here then, is a curious history of Playboy magazine in squeaky clean Singapore:

1) Playboy and its companion Playmate calendar was banned in 1960. Until then it was being sold at $2.10. Today, you may have to fork out at least 10 times that price considering it’s a collector’s item. You may even choose to feature it as an art exhibit, for hipsters to stare and stroke their chin at, instead of stroking something else.

Jayne Mansfield

Jayne Mansfield

2) In 1979, there was talk of the glitzy Playboy Club opening in Singapore. Its philosophy stood for ‘refinement, distinction and perfection’. Yes, that is exactly what we teenage boys feel while rubbing ourselves under the blanket spending a hot night alone with the magazine. Remember, the actual Playboy publication was still banned then. I don’t suppose the Club hosted strip-shows. In any case, in 1983, the Club was struck off the register because it wasn’t doing worthy of ‘distinction’, or rather, ANYTHING at all.

3) In 2003, one of the reasons given by the Censorship Review Committee for the ban of Playboy magazine but not Cosmopolitan was that it was ‘demeaning to women’. So I guess movies like Secretary are fine, then.

4) Ngee Ann City once boasted of Singapore’s first PLAYBOY boutique store (Playboy rears its rabbit’s head at Ngee Ann City, ST 1994). I’m shocked that I’ve never heard of this. Maybe I was too busy with, ahem, the Internet. It soon went bust, and was never to be mentioned again.

5) In 1991, Temasek Holdings reportedly acquired a 5% stake in New Zealand-based Brierley Investments Limited (S’pore’s connection with Playboy, 20 July 1991, ST). Industrial Equity (Pacific Ltd), a unit of Brierley’s, acquired a 5.8% stake in Playboy Enterprises in 1987. So, get this, a part of our Government-linked investment funds may once have connections to a girlie magazine that the Government itself BANNED for local consumption. That’s like investing in a company owned by a Mexican narc cartel.

6) In 2007, Singapore-based Acme Mobile Pte Ltd struck a deal with Playboy to distribute ‘Playboy branded’ games, images and ring tones across South East Asia. No nudity, of course. But likewise for

Without naked pictures, it’s only a matter of time before Hugh Hefner’s salacious legacy goes limp. As limp as the reasons given by MDA to continue banning the World’s Finest Men’s Magazine ever.

How to get rewarded for reporting litterbugs

From ‘Reward people who catch litterbugs in action, MP Lee Bee Wah proposes’, 12 Oct 15, article by Monica Kotwani, CNA

…Ms Lee said picking up litter is not enough. She is encouraging her residents to look out for those who litter habitually. She also suggested to the authorities to reward people who catch litterbugs in action. For example, after a resident takes a video of someone littering, he submits the evidence to NEA, and he gets to earn half of the summons.

She said: “In Taiwan, every resident is an enforcement officer. They can video, they can take photo of the litterbug and submit to their NEA. And if there is successful prosecution, their NEA will give the resident who reported it half of the summons collected.

…Said NEA chairman Liak Teng Lit: “I think the Government needs to think through what are the things we need to do. If you look at the equivalent of what is happening on the road, many people today have their in-vehicle cameras and not many people dare to make funny claims about accidents because there is a risk that whatever you say could be contradicting what’s on the camera in someone else’s vehicles.

“So certainly having neighbours watching over the environment and watching over each other will be very helpful. For the good citizens, there is nothing to worry about. In fact, people will be filming you doing good things and praising you rather than reprimanding you.”

The idea of a ‘litterbug vigilante’ is not a new one. In the face of weak enforcement, many have called upon concerned citizens of this ‘cleaned’ nation to rise to the occasion and publicly shame our fellow Singaporeans for their inconsiderate behaviour. NEA chairman Liak himself is the sort of guy who would tell people ‘nicely’ if they litter, citing statistics that 6 to 7  out of 20 litterbugs would give him a dirty look, while 1 out of 20 would yell at him to mind his own business. (Liak Teng Lit: 5 million, 70,000 cleaners, that is ridiculous! 16 Feb 2015, ST).

Mr Liak got one fundamental thing wrong about human psychology though; NO ONE will ever bother to take a video of you volunteering to clean someone else’s crap and give you a thumbs up. If you have followed STOMP long enough, you’ll realise that people are more interested in taking pictures of flaming cars, dead insects in food, catfights, exposed buttcracks, people washing boots in food court sinks, or if you’re lucky enough, someone shitting outside an MRT station.

Good Samaritans doing everyday niceties, without risking their lives or losing limbs saving strangers from total disaster, often go unnoticed. If you defend a helpless teenager from a crazy abusive angmo, you’re recognised as a hero. If you escort an old lady cross the road, you’ll be praised as an angel sent from heaven. If you, however, wag your finger and tut-tut at someone for leaving a mess in public, people will start asking: ‘What are you, Captain Planet?’ Which explains why now an MP is suggesting that we need to instill paranoia into litterbugs so that they think twice before launching that filthy booger out of the car window. And that by throwing money at you, hopefully that would encourage you to grow some spine and snitch on your fellow man.

Just last year, the NEA mooted the idea of recruiting volunteer enforcers to go around catching nuisance litterers. It’s a thankless job and no wonder we haven’t heard anything about this project since. It’s slightly worse than being one of those library attendants who go around shushing noisy children. As for filming someone red-handed, it’s practically impossible to whip out your phone and catch someone just at the instant they’re flicking their cigarette butt into the drain or throwing their Old Chang Kee fishball stick by the road. You’d have to start filming people secretly from behind a bush, and who has the time for such undercover stakeouts, half-summons cut or not? You’re more likely to be the one reported to the cops instead because of your suspicious loitering around trying to help the NEA raise their miserable KPIs.

Lee Bee Wah’s idea would probably work, provided you’re in the Old West looking for Billy the one-armed bandit, except that you’re armed with a crappy phone instead of a lasso to round up fugitives. It’s a sad state of affairs when the authorities need to pay amateur mercenaries to do the dirty work for them. Such a move is backward cowboy thinking and should be duly, well, trashed. Then do I have a better solution, you ask? Well, one word: Drones. Yes, flying surveillance machines designed to catch these no-good scum of the earth from way up high. It sure beats clumsy spywork and none of the scuffles or vendettas when things turn ugly. It’s like Robocop with wings.

We’re supposed to be a SMART nation now, MP Lee. Let’s live up to that, shall we.

GrabTaxi’s sexist ‘Love Boobs?’ campaign

From ‘Grabtaxi apologise for ‘insensitive’ breast cancer awareness campaign’, 8 Oct 2015, article by Xabryna Kek, CNA

Car-hailing app GrabTaxi has issued an apology on Thursday (Oct 8), following backlash over its breast cancer awareness campaign. Since the launch of the #GrabitBeatit campaign, GrabTaxi customers have received app notifications with the message “LOVE BOOBS? So does cancer.” The slogan has also been plastered on cars running the GrabCar services.

Some netizens did not take kindly to the tagline. “It’s unfortunate that your Breast Cancer campaign is communicated in a sexist way that objectifies women,” Twitter user Faizal Hamssin wrote.

Boob, I mean book, a GrabTaxi cab now!

Boob, I mean book, a GrabTaxi cab now! (pic:Sunday Times, 11 oct 15)

The hashtag for the campaign reads #GrabItBeatIt, which sounds like the jingle for a bongo drumset than breast cancer. An SMU Associate Professor of Marketing lashed out at the use of the word ‘boobs’ (Grabtaxi’s cheeky campaign on cancer awareness backfires, 11 Oct 15, Sunday Times), as if  changing the slogan to ‘love BREASTS’ would make much of a difference. Besides, the ‘breast’ pun is already taken, by a famous fast food burger chain with a history of ‘objectifying’ parts of the female anatomy.

We love your buns too

In 2012, The Singapore Cancer Society launched the cringeworthy ‘Treasure the Breast Things in Life’ campaign, so GrabTaxi isn’t the only one capitalising on our affection for ‘breasty’ things. ‘Breast’ puns are a tad overused. Cue ‘derogatory’ terms instead.

I guess ‘LOVE B(.)(.)BS?’ is deemed offensive to some women because it’s the kind of porny clickbait that is designed to draw horny men. If there’s anything wrong with the ad it’s that the target audience (males) seems questionable, as most females who chance upon a ‘love boobs?’ ad is likely to dismiss it as one of those spam links to online sex shops selling dodgy bust-enhancement creams. It should also be more inclusive, since breast cancer affects men too, and renamed as ‘LOVE BOOBS AND MOOBS?’, though I’m sure a lot more people love the former than the latter.

As for the physical act of ‘grabbing’, there is, in fact, some grabbing involved when it comes to breast cancer screening, whether it’s done gently via self-examination in the mirror, or by a mammogram that literally clamps your tits together like a medieval torture rack used by misogynistic zealots to force confessions out of women accused of witchcraft. If you’re disturbed (or worse, tickled) by the phrase ‘Beat It’, it just means you’ve descended too far into the darkest realms of S&M.

There’s no shame in admitting that the vast majority of guys love breasts. It’s a shame, however, that people who accuse such ads of being sexist and ‘insensitive’ ignore all the dick jokes done at our expense and other campaigns that mock the male anatomy, like this ‘Clean Your Balls’ ad for example. Making fun of testicles – now THAT’S really hitting below the belt.

Like breast cancer, testicular cancer is no joke of course. But if you had a ‘Love Balls?’ campaign instead, I doubt social media would go all ‘tits-up’ over GrabTaxi’s ad. Somehow ‘Loving boobs’ is offensive, but ‘Playing with balls’ is hilarious. No wonder Ikea never considered raising a meatball charity event to draw our attention to the scourge of testicular cancer. Yes, cancer loves your balls too. Cancer is a sneaky bi-pervert, goddamit!

Allow me jog your mammary-I mean- memory: Some years back, we had a ‘Lift Your Skirt’ campaign for cervical cancer, which had some folks shaking their heads all the way home after spotting the ads at bus stops, because they can’t imagine anything beyond the message than a call for women to expose their panties to men. Naughtiness seems to be the norm if you want Singaporeans to, well, keep abreast of killer diseases. Whatever works to grab your attention, I say, whether it affects the health of your boob, your cervix or your dangling balls.

Then there’s this fun way of raising funds for AIDS in Japan especially for people who ‘love boobs’. I suppose the reason why people don’t complain that this ‘objectifies women’ is because the recipients of the groping work as sex objects for a living.

Well, thanks to GrabTaxi, I’m forced to interpret the lyrics to the Black Eyed Peas’ ‘My Humps (my lovely lady lumps)’ in a totally different light. Slogan theme song, anyone?

ASEAN Para athletes taking the MRT to venues

From ‘Para-athletes voice support for ASEAN Para Games transport option’, 8 Oct 2015, article by Justin Ong and Wendy Wong, CNA.

As organisers of the ASEAN Para Games sought to assuage concerns that para-athletes competing in December’s Games in Singapore would be travelling to venues via MRT trains, local athletes have voiced both support and concern for the move.

Speaking to Channel NewsAsia on Thursday (Oct 8), para-swimmer Theresa Goh said that those competing in the Para Games have not yet been officially briefed on the transport arrangements, but said that the option to take the train was “not a bad idea”.

…The Singapore ASEAN Para Games Organising Committee (SAPGOC) said in a hastily called news conference on Thursday afternoon that the MRT is just one option available, and that shuttle buses will be used to ferry competitors to venues.

SAPGOC chairman Lim Teck Yin stressed that their first priority was the “well-being and care of the athletes”. He also said that the train arrangement was a means “to bring the ASEAN Para Games closer to the people” and that athletes would have the option to choose whichever mode of transport they are most comfortable with.

However, able-bodied national racewalker Edmund Sim said he was puzzled by initial reports suggesting the MRT would be the main transport arrangement for para-athletes. “In major Games, there are higher priorities such as managing competition stress to fret over. As much as possible, I am sure the athletes will prefer little fuss over logistical matters.”

As for organisers’ point that taking the MRT could promote “inclusivity”, Sim said there are “other ways to showcase social acceptance”. “Public transport to ferry (athletes) during a major event is a bad move. You must remember there will be spectators taking the same train or bus too.” The reputation of Singapore as host in the international arena is at stake as well, he added.

Able-bodied rower Nadzrie Hyckell, a SEA Games silver medallist, said the MRT could be a faster mode of transport, but questioned why it was not used for competitors during the SEA Games in June.

“Did they test this method? Like whether it is easier for the athletes?” he asked.

In a paper written by Jorain Ng from the Disabled People’s Association titled ‘Achieving Inclusion in Transport‘, numerous barriers of accessibility to those with special needs were identified. We have oblivious commuters hooked to their devices standing on tactile indicators, frequent breakdown of lifts and escalators (not to mention the trains themselves) and clueless MRT wardens. One Forum writer complained of able-bodied people using the disabled MRT toilets as dressing rooms. (Limit use of toilets for the disabled at MRT stations, 2 Sep 15, ST Forum).

Although Stadium station is only 3 stops away from where the Para athletes are staying, one has to wonder if our infrastructure and MRT staff are up to par when it comes to accommodating even a couple of blind commuters, not to mention entire contingents of people with various disabilities. Getting on board is one thing, being compromised by a train delay, by an ugly commuter, or someone using the disabled toilet for hanky-panky while the whole world is watching (including new Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan), is quite another.

As for ‘promoting inclusiveness’, what does chairman Lim Teck Yin expect of Singaporeans when they see Para athletes waiting for the train? Give them hugs of encouragement, assuming Singaporeans even KNOW about the Games? Will there be ‘priority lines’ for ASEAN Para teams just like how vehicles are expected to give way to SEA games buses? If not, are we telling the world that it’s OK to give able-bodied sportsmen and women traffic privileges but not those on wheelchairs and walking sticks?

If I were an athlete, disabled or otherwise’, I’d probably be more concerned about getting to my venue on time instead of mingling with the local population. These people are here to win medals, not your sympathy. They could have gotten SEA games marathon runners to jog directly to their venues and mingle with our local joggers, but noooo, they had to hide and ferry them around in air-con buses, with not even an open top deck for us locals to wave, cheer and toss bouquets of flowers at. I suppose those are reserved for PAP victory parades once every 5 years.

Alternatively, if cost was really the issue, the organising committee could have looked into chartering trains en masse, like what ACS did to bring their boys to a rugby final. And considering that people tend to behave better when they see imposing men in uniform with weapons, up the kiasu level and activate the SAF (for free, too) to make sure things go according to schedule.

NEA not providing the public with hourly PSI readings

From ‘Hourly PSI readings would allow for better decision-making’, 28 Sep 15, Voices, Today

(Tan Zhi Rui): Amid the annual haze, I would like to again strongly make the case for the National Environment Agency (NEA) to provide hourly Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) readings instead of three-hour averages.

Singapore is a small country and a slight shift in prevailing winds can cause sudden significant changes in air quality. With a three-hour-average PSI, lower PSI levels for the earlier two hours can lower the reading when the haze has already reached a hazardous level in the third hour.

The NEA’s FAQs on PSI webpage states that its health advisory is based on the 24-hour PSI as it is a “better reflection of the total exposure”, and health effects have been mostly studied based on this measure. In comparison, the three-hour PSI is only “an indicative measure” that the public may use “to make adjustments to their daily activities if they wish to do so”.

I understand that public health planning is more effectively done on a daily, 24-hour basis. However, logically and given a choice, most people would refer to a shorter time frame to avoid exposure to the worst hours of the haze.

While the use of three-hour averages may moderate PSI readings and prevent undue panic, it is irresponsible not to provide a more accurate hourly measure for Singaporeans to protect themselves, especially when the NEA has the data.

This is particularly incongruous given that the hourly PM2.5 readings are available on the NEA website, which are equally “highly variable when the wind drives smoke haze from place to place” as stated by the NEA.

In NEA director Fong Peng Keong’s response, he cited ‘insufficient evidence’ from recent studies of sub-daily or shorter PM2.5 exposure for the ‘development of a 1-hour PSI based on exposure to PM2.5 for a 1 hour period’. In 2013, Minister Grace Fu urged the public  to pay more attention to the 24 hour reading instead of the fluctuating 3-hourly average. Ng Eng Hen said giving 3 separate readings would ‘confuse’ the public. You’re talking about people who’re accustomed to dealing with all sorts of national health coverage schemes. So nope, we won’t be ‘confused’. We’re a smart nation. We voted the PAP back into power, for God’s sake.

The Government’s argument is that 24 hour readings are ‘backed by long-term epidemiological studies’, and are internationally accepted methods of assessing the health impact of air quality, but doesn’t explain whether these studies take into account tiny nations like ours when the 3 hour average can fluctuate from low 200’s in the afternoon and drop to 80 by late evening (like yesterday 3 Oct 2015, for example).

There was a time in 2006 when the NEA didn’t even promote 3 hourly readings, citing ‘unnecessary alarm‘ if these were published instead of the 24 hour readings. These days, you don’t even need to check the actual PSI to get ‘alarmed’ by the haze. Simply looking out of the window and taking a sniff would do (though the NEA later clarified that low visibility may not mean a high PSI). Or you could check out this ‘no bullshit PSI readings’ website if you really want to know what the one-hourly PSI is. But honestly, aside from statisticians and academics, how many of us actually care about the 24-hour PSI? Since 2006, we’ve complained that it has no practical use, and only serves as ‘post-mortem’ data for the good folks at NEA to crunch before the next haze comes around. It’s probably as useful a gauge as today’s weather if you’re wondering whether to bring the brolly out tomorrow. Even if you had exposed yourself to what’s considered a ‘very unhealthy’ 24 hour PSI for just one day, nobody will be able to tell you for certain your risk of getting lung or heart disease in 5 years.

There’s no reason why our top scientists in NEA would not be able to derive one-hour PSIs on the back of a napkin. So my guess is that they’re afraid of people overreacting to spot PSI levels and neglecting the supposedly more trustworthy 24 hour ones. Which means panic buying of N95 masks, people suddenly taking an interest in library books (to hide from the haze), conspiracy theories about cloud-seeding or hoaxers sending mass SMSes about fake holidays and office shutdowns. Oh wait, all that’s already happened, hourly PSI or not.


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