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Lessons to learn from a disaster

  • It is hoped that the floods in Penang will open the eyes of our politicians to the need of placing the interests of the rakyat above their own.

By LIM SUE GOAN
Sin Chew Daily

Penang has seen its worst floods in history over last weekend. MCA Youth chairman Chong Sin Woon came under public assault for his untimely criticisms of chief minister Lim Guan Eng. He subsequently apologized.

Squabble between rival politicians have often crossed the line in more recent years. It is hoped that the latest development will serve as a launching pad for eventual political maturity.

As a matter of fact, after Lim sought the help of the federal government, BN leaders have instructed the national security council to coordinate in the rescue operation that also sees the participation of the national guards and national disaster management agency, among others.

Humanitarianism transcends all political boundaries, and since the government has been so generous as to provide humanitarian assistance to the Rohingya and other foreigners, it should also offer a hand to disaster-stricken Malaysians irrespective of their states or political affiliations.

MCA, Gerakan Rakyat and Umno Puteri have also volunteers to Penang while the Johor youth and sports department has mobilized some 150 to 200 volunteers in addition to the financial assistance from the Kelantan and Selangor state governments.

NGOs and charitable institutions are rushing relief items to the disaster zone while Sin Chew Daily, Foguangshan and other organizations have provided food and other necessities.

We have picked up countless of calls from readers who are eager to donate to flood victims.

The same happened in end-2006 and 2011 new year's eve in Johor and during the end-2014 floods in Kelantan, where Malaysians regardless of race and religion joined in to help the victims through their hardest moments.

This is happening in Penang today. We will never forget that we are all Malaysians living harmoniously on this land where skin color is immaterial.

If we learn to forgive and are willing to selflessly help those in distress, there isn't a disaster we are unable to overcome.

However, hatred has been thriving in the hearts of many people lately due to political differences. We no longer feel for our compatriots who are less fortunate or are in need.

When flash floods struck Penang on September 15, netizens started a whole new round of verbal wars in the cyberspace, as they did when Federal Highway in KL was submerged in floodwaters on October 30.

For the past ten years Malaysian politics has taken a turn for the worse, often sacrificing the interests of the rakyat. For example, the confrontation between Selangor state government and the BN federal government when the state came under water rationing recently has resulted in the delay of the Langat 2 water treatment plant project, with the first phase now slated for completion only in December 2019.

On the issue of Chinese primary schools in Selangor, both MCA and DAP have been at loggerheads for years but to no avail.

It is hoped that the floods in Penang will open the eyes of our politicians to the need of placing the interests of the rakyat above their own, and work together whenever necessary for the well-being of the people.

Meanwhile, the public must also learn to lay down their political prejudices and not to turn against their friends, colleagues or relatives just because they are on different sides of the political divide.

It is utterly foolish to allow politics to eat into our day-to-day lives. There are many things way more important than politics in life.

Having experienced so many floods and other natural calamities, perhaps we should learn to be more humble in front of Mother Nature, as our environmentally destructive acts will surely backfire one day.

Global warming has already given rise to climate changes, triggering unusual earth movements that will intensify earthquakes.

Our country is no longer a disaster-free heaven, as evidenced by the tremor measuring 5.9 on the Richter scale in Ranau, Sabah two years ago.

Affected by Typhoon Lan sweeping across much of eastern Philippines, East Malaysia experienced unusual storms on October 21 this year, while peninsular Malaysia saw its hottest days in years. In under two weeks, the northern part of peninsular Malaysia was affected by low pressure that triggered sustained storms.

Natural resources and environment minister Wan Junaidi has said the floods in Penang were due to unusually high rainfall not seen in more than a hundred years.

Why do we see so many instances of abnormal rainfall in recent years? Perhaps we should learn to accept the reality that the age of "global weirding" has finally arrived.

The flood mitigation measures we have today may not be adequate to tackle such enormous rainfalls, and we need to mobilize more of our resources to better prepare ourselves for imminent disasters of unprecedented scales, including improving our existing climate warning systems as well as evacuation and relief mechanisms.

 

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