OPINION: Singapore Haze: Discontent Rises - Kirsten Han

The Diplomat, 27 Jun 2013
As the PSI and PM2.5 (which measures the quantity of particles in the air) readings skyrocketing, so did demand for N95 masks. Indeed, for a several days masks were unavailable, the result of panic buying. As supply decreased, profiteers began to market masks at higher and higher prices.
Drawing on their stockpile of nine million N95 masks, the government has begun to distribute masks to low-income families. One million masks were distributed across the island in six hours. The government has also made them available for sale at retailers and supermarkets such as NTUC FairPrice.
However, this move has also drawn criticism. As blogger Alex Au points out: “On Facebook, people are up in arms after hearing that the state stockpile has been given out to commercial pharmacies, helping them make huge profits at jacked-up prices. Why didn’t the government also set prices? Did no one among the bright sparks in our civil service expect profiteering to happen?”
A lack of health information was also cited as a cause for concern.
“There was very poor communication from the government. Twitter had the most up to date information,” says Crystal Nanavati, a mother of two who wrote a post on protecting children from the pollution. “The information that there are no masks safety rated for kids was not communicated, nor was there reporting on it until very recently. The information that pregnant women should limit the time spent wearing a mask wasn't disseminated until very recently. I saw plenty of kids with surgical masks – people seemed to think they were adequate when they're no more effective than nothing at all.” Full story
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