Endless flood trauma for Malaysians

Jan 13, 2017

Kelantan floods

Flood has become just “any other“ news for us Malaysians these days. It’s a yearly anticipation and battle to fight with. I remember reading that one of the flood victim, Isa Kassim, 65 from Kuala Berang, telling the reporters from Bernama that this is the worst flood in 30 years.

My question is; If flood is so regular in our country, why is it growing bigger and not reducing or leaving lesser damages?

Are we going to allow flood claim lives and leave severe losses for the next 20 years to come?

Take just three case studies;

JAPAN

Japan has built five giant cisterns, 500-ton columns, and more than 6.5 kilometers of cavernous tunnels.

Two massive construction projects to protect Japan capital from the ever present threat of floods.

The projects are known as the Metropolitan Area Outer Underground Discharge Tunnel, or more simply as the “G-Cans Project,” and a network of 3.3 kilometer tunnels, called “The Furukawa Reservoir”.

It’s an example of how Japan’s capital, which lies in a region at high risk from flooding and tropical cyclones, is trying to figure out how to contain the elements to protect its 13 million inhabitants.

THAILAND

Thailand has its Polder Systems ; Constructing dikes to protect overtop of the riverbank and overland flow from surrounding riverbank, constructing drainage system within Bangkok, improving drainage pipes, canals and improving drainage pipes, canals and tunnels, constructing water gates, constructing pumping stations, constructing water retention area and installing Information System comprising of radar for rainfall monitoring; rainfall forecast system, automatic rainfall monitoring system on flooding on roads and highways.

CANADA

Initiatives include portions of their asphalt roads ripped up and replaced with permeable brick and gravel in an effort to curb the effects of flash flooding, construction of temporary rainfall holding tanks, restoration of urban wetlands, and home audits in Calgary so that properties can be flood-proofed.

The effectiveness of each measure will be monitored to determine whether it should be adopted more widely.

Can’t any of these be done in the flood prone states here?

Millions of Ringgits has been allocated to politicians and agencies in the aim to lend a helping hand to the victims. RM 730mill were allocated in Budget for 2016 alone to look into flood prevention measures and another RM 60mill to implement National Flood Forecasting and Warning Programme. Has the money been completely channeled for this purpose?

Has it been audited? None of these questions would have been raised if the nation has witnessed progress and improvement in handling floods here.

Where are the results? So many housing projects were promised to the flood victims, what is the progress?

The Official Portal for Department of Irrigation and Drainage Malaysia under the Ministry of Natural Resources & Environment has a list of projects undertaken for flood mitigation but not many in critical states like Kelantan & Terengganu.

These people have not even recovered fully from the massive flood that hit them in 2014 – many of them were still staying in tents when they were hit with flood again last year. The Permanent House Project ( RKB ) was never completed.

Those completed had compliance issues. Who is responsible for this? A report in Star Online last year also stated that there was “ an erosion of data integrity “ as the flood management information system ( Epasca banjir ) was not fully updated.

Who is to be blamed? Contractors, tender bidders, authorities, politicians? Why is the Federal Government not being aggressive in handling this national issue? Isnt this more important agenda than the multi billion Ringgit East Coast Rail Line ( ECRL ) Project ? Or is it not a priority because they are led by Oppositions?

Every year, we allocate millions for disaster management but how much are we spending for disaster prevention, isn’t that the long term solution that we should be looking at? When we can spend billions to improve and establish new infrastructures, why not spend half of it to lessen these states annual burden?

Why can’t we hire consultants and expert teams from the countries above to suggest and work on best solutions for us within a specific dateline?

This should not be one of your thoughtful initiatives, rather, it’s your obligations towards the victims. They too are tax payers and citizens of our country and they are mostly people from the B40 group who need to be assisted with.

Before we welcome refugees and fight for justice of foreign countries, let’s look into our own people’s wellbeing first.

An opinion by S. Gopinath, President of Malaysian Indian Network of Entrepreneurs Association

SHARE