4:45pm 03/03/2023
Malaysia is no longer disaster-free!
By:Sin Chew Daily

Do bear in mind that our country is no longer a disaster-free haven.

Although this country has thankfully been spared from earthquakes, typhoons and other forms of natural disasters, floods remain very much a perennial nightmare for many Malaysians.

Although it is an overstatement that the country will always get inundated by floodwaters after every rain, it is nonetheless a fact that floods do occur on a regular basis, particularly during the wet monsoon months.

The latest floods have taken place in the states of Johor and Pahang. In Johor, many districts have come submerged, with Chaah in Segamat district, Labis and Kota Tinggi the worst hit. Many residents have been forced to evacuate from their homes while others are still stranded on their roofs waiting for rescue.

In Pahang, five districts have been affected by the floods, namely Rompin, Maran, Jerantut, Pekan and Raub, with thousands evacuees at the state’s relief centers.

The floods have also affected SPM candidates, hundreds of whom have to resit their exam at a later date.

Every time we have such disastrous floods in the country, we would see how Malaysians come together generously to offer a helping hand. Yayasan Sin Chew and Foguangshan have teamed up once again to help the flood victims.

It is our hope that the floodwaters will recede very soon so that the victims can go back to their homes. At the same time, we also urge the government and relevant authorities to take prompt and appropriate actions to provide the much needed assistance to the victims.

Most importantly, the government must draw up long-term flood mitigation programs to effectively minimize the incidence of floods, especially during the rainy season.

Whenever floods strike, news of politicians focusing on the flood issue, offering help to the victims and talking about flood mitigation plans make national newspaper headlines.

But once the rain has stopped, floodwaters have receded, the sun shines again, and the victims are back to their homes, such enthusiasm quickly dies, only to be reawakened when the next big one strikes again.

And this probably explains why we have spent decades fixing the flood problem but are still regularly haunted by floods that can come unannounced.

The massive floods in the southern region back in 2006 saw the then prime minister Abdullah Badawi heading south personally, and all of a sudden everyone was talking about flood mitigation.

Unfortunately, after so many years we are still unable to prevent floods, year after year.

In 2011, floods made a comeback in the south, but the so-called flood mitigation project there had done nothing to alleviate the destruction.

As for the east coast, the year-end floods are almost a sure bet; only the degree of severity varies from year to year.

In late 2021, dozens of people were killed in the monstrous floods across the country.

Talking about flood mitigation, there are two things that we need to understand very well.

Firstly, this is going to be a long-term project that requires input of  enormous resources. Secondly, we must have a comprehensive package and not just targeted near-term plan.

To be very fair, the government is not doing nothing after each flood. They have really done something, although how effective the efforts they have put in is a different question.

Because of the climate change, we can expect floods to happen more and more frequently.

We used to believe that floods will only strike at the end of the year, but such a “pattern” is now completely shattered: floods can strike anytime of the year now, and both the government and rakyat must have a high level of crisis awareness and must bear in mind that our country is no longer a disaster-free haven.

In view of this, Malaysians must learn to protect themselves and their loved ones in a flood, while the government must proactively implement flood mitigation plans to safeguard the people’s lives and their property.

As mentioned earlier, flood mitigation project is going to be a long-term undertaking. It is a highly complicated issue that is devoid of a simple, straightaway solution.

The government will need to ensure the effectiveness of our flood warning system, the preparedness of disaster relief committees, as well as proper urban planning and environment protection.

As a matter of fact, human factor can never be ruled out, and those in high office must never resort to all kinds of excuses to cover up their inefficiency.

Regular floods have already wreaked tremendous havoc to the Malaysian society and have claimed innocent lives, too.

While we understand that flood mitigation goals can never be achieved overnight, the government must have the strong political will and a comprehensive work plan to gradually take the country out of the perpetual nightmare from destructive floods.




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