In Praise of Hazing

Everyone’s bitching about the haze. Pointing the finger across the water. Buying face masks. Not exercising outdoors. Honestly, the PSI crosses the 100 mark for the first time in four years and folk start acting like we’re under attack. Look out, it’s behind (and in front and all around) you!Given our tendency to feel rather pleased with ourselves for living in such a wonderfully clean and green and independent way, we can’t help thinking that this little reminder that everything is connected, that on a bad day we can give China a run for its money in the ugly sky stakes, and that our lungs are just as susceptible as everyone else’s to heavy particulate matter is a good thing. Better smog than smug, we say.One oft-overlooked benefit of these crazy, hazy days is how much easier it is to hide what you’re up to. After all, it seems as if we’re otherwise short of options on that front. The papers report that despite the clearing of woodland in Choa Chu Kang some time ago, people are still engaged in all sorts of nefarious activity—gambling, whoring, not referring to MBS by its full name—in amongst the trees. Perhaps the theory is that if your trousers fall down in a forest and no-one is around to see, it might not actually have happened. But really? Didn’t hiding out in the woods to circumvent the law die out with Robin Hood?Let’s use the smog, people! We no longer have to get medieval when we want to avoid the law. Thanks to our ever-so-helpful NEA and their hourly updates to all the “tweeps” (is it just us, or does that sound like an insult? As in, “I ditched that guy. He was a total tweep”), we even know in advance when the haze will be at its worst. Crime syndicates, cheating spouses, underage kids looking to take a drag on their first illicit Vitasoy; all of them can now conduct their affairs away from prying eyes, by heading to wherever the stench of sulphur dioxide is at its strongest. The face masks might even come in useful for once.Hell, it worked for London during the Industrial Revolution. Crime rates went through the roof when those pea-souper fogs rolled in. Let’s not miss out this time round. Combining predictive forecasting with environmental awareness to create opportunities where none existed before. It’s so very Singapore in the twenty-first century.