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This book is based on research carried our while I was pursuing my PhD at the University of Sydney, Australia from 2009-2012.


Despite the efforts of Southeast Asian governments and of ASEAN, transboundary haze continues to be a major environmental problem in Southeast Asia. This book demonstrates that the issue is complex, and explains why efforts to solve the problem in purely political terms are ineffective, and likely to continue to be ineffective. The book shows how state led, state incentivised agribusiness development lies at the heart of the problem, leading to a large rise in palm oil production, with extensive clearing of forests by burning, and the resulting haze. The author concludes by discussing the huge difficulties involved in overturning the system of “patronage politics”.


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This book is a compilation of short articles, opinion pieces, and blog posts written for academic and news outlets between 2013 and 2020.


Transboundary haze has been a recurring problem in the Southeast Asian region since at least 1982. Why does this toxic form of air pollution still persist? Helena Varkkey, a Malaysian political scientist, has been studying this multifaceted problem for more than fifteen years. This book provides an ideal collection for those who want a clear but concise introduction to this complex issue. Its commentaries explore how often sensitive matters of ASEAN diplomacy, national interest or political patronage continue to stand in the way of clear skies in the region

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