The more than 100 land-clearing forest fires reportedly set by farmers and companies on Indonesia's Sumatra Island this week haven't just caused a layer of haze to envelop the city-state of Singapore, along with parts of Malaysia and Indonesia. They've also pitted politicians in Indonesia and Singapore against one another.
On Thursday, for instance, Agung Laksono, the Indonesian minister coordinating the country response effort, told reporters in Jakarta that "Singapore should not be behaving like a child and making all this noise," adding, for good measure, "This is not what the Indonesian nation wants, it is because of nature."
In Singapore, where air pollution reached record levels on Thursday (the Pollution Standards Index hit 371; anything above 300 is considered hazardous), politicians have taken to Facebook to get their messages across. As Environment and Water Resources Minister Vivian Balakrishnan wrote, "This is now the worst haze that Singapore has ever faced. And no country or corporation has the right to pollute the air at the expense of Singaporeans' health and wellbeing.... On the international front, we need urgent and definitive action by Indonesia to tackle the problem at source. Singaporeans have lost patience, and are understandably angry, distressed and concerned." For a window into that frustration, check out the Twitter hashtag #SGHaze, where you can find Singaporeans complaining about the haze and posting photos.
As Singaporean officials prepare to meet with their Indonesian counterparts to defuse the tensions -- and the Indonesian government considers cloud-seeding, a technique that involves injecting chemicals into clouds, in an attempt to make it rain -- here's a look at the eerie mix of fire and haze that's descended upon Southeast Asia.
Above, the sun is partly covered by haze over Marina Bay Sands hotels and convention center in Singapore on June 19.