It is rather unusual that ST carry a report of this kind on their "Opinion" section.
This is the sub heading:
Many palm oil producers and buyers are sited in Singapore. Hit them where it hurts, by mandating banks and investors to have codes that prevent loans to or investments in firms that aid deforestation and land burning.
Excerpts of the contents:
Singapore is a major palm oil trading hub and many of its banks are major financiers of agricultural companies in the region. None of these banks however has any policies relating to the environmental, social and governance standards of the companies it gives loans to. This means that they have indirectly financed deforestation activities and, as a result, are also indirectly responsible for the haze.
Centre for International Forestry Research (Cifor) says that besides banks, the second-largest financier is equity investors – this group contributes 59 per cent of the capital of Indonesia's 10 largest palm oil companies. Sovereign wealth funds such as Singapore's Temasek Holdings and Malaysia's Employees Provident Fund, and individual shareholders all help finance the activities of some of these publicly traded companies.
The opaqueness of the palm oil supply chain make it possible for the big companies here to claim that they are not responsible for the burning. If their money does not fuel the activities occurring at the plantation level, how on earth these Singapore registered and listed companies generate billion of turn over and profits?
This is the Govt's classic way of dealing with the problem without antagonising the foreigners! Taichi to the market players! See – the article says make it such that the banks are responsible to make sure their funding is not for this hazardous activity. How would you as a bank sited in Singapore ensure that the loan's terms and conditions are adhered to, when the plantation is is Kalimantan or Sumatra?
A reader points out the hypocrisy of Vivian Balakrishnan's statement that "it is the height of national shame for the armed forces of any country to turn its arms against its own people."