Saving Sarawak

I see several Sarawak-related pages claiming that no one, including the mainstream media, cares or has given coverage to the flood situation in Sarawak.

Comparing the response both the government and non-governmental organisations gave to the floods on Kelantan and Pahang to the ones now in Sarawak, the Sarawak-related pages say that there is very little that is being done by the Federal Government.

Government Assistance

All Federal Government agencies in Sarawak have been put on flood watch standby as early as December 2017. This includes, but not limited to, the Army 1st Division, the Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM), and the Fire and Rescue Services Department (FRSD).

The FRSD has been evacuating people from flooded areas, and in one particular instance, evacuated Suriah Bakar, 35, of Kampung Parong, Kota Marudu, who was in labour.

Prime Minister Najib Razak himself is constantly monitoring the flood situation in Sarawak and has promised to ensure that relief reaches all flood victims.

As at noon today (Thursday 8 Feb 2018), only five areas in three divisions in Sarawak have recorded water level above the Alert level. They are in the Miri, Bintulu and Kapit districts.

Only the Bintulu-Belaga road in Bintulu, and Long Jegan and Long Panai in Miri have water levels that are above the Danger level, while Ng Merurung in Kapit and Kuala Binyo in Bintulu have water levels that are above the Alert level.

The areas that are affected by the floods are Samarahan. Sarikei, Sibu, Serian, Bintulu, Mukah and Limbang.

Malaya-Biased Media?

While the Borneo Post has been actively updating the flood situations in Sarawak, Sarawakians complain that the Peninsular-based media, especially the electronic media, have not been giving ample coverage.

This is absolutely not true. Just yesterday I pointed to a Sarawakian friend URLs of mainstream media reports on the flood situations there, including the ones by NST, Berita Harian and Utusan Malaysia.

BERNAMA and RTM have been airing the plight of Sarawak flood victims. Even the station most hated by the Opposition, TV3, has been consistently reporting on the flood situations in Sarawak, covering flood relief centers as well as the latest evacuation operation this morning by the Civil Defence Force (APM) involving a woman in labour at Klinik Entabai, in Julau, Sarikei.

Social Media and Floods Fever

As far as social media is concerned, there is very little that the ordinary Semenanjung folks can do. While we can start collection centers here, sending stuff over there would not be economical at all.

Whilst there have been many flooding in the Peninsular, I made myself available for three – the Johor floods of 2006-2007, the Pahang floods of 2013, and the Kelantan floods of 2014. Those were the flood disasters that Peninsular people got together and helped government agencies to provide assistance to flood victims.

In Johor, I provided assistance between Parit Botak and Rengit. In Pahang, I assisted Her Highness the Tengku Puan Pahang in the Kuantan and Pekan areas. In Kelantan, my former classmates and I brought supplies from Putrajaya to the hospitals in Gua Musang, Kuala Krai and Jeli.

In Johor back in 2006-2007, two waves of floods hit the state. In the first wave, 90,000 people were evacuated. Just when they thought it was safe to return home, a second wave struck and caused 109,831 people to evacuate.

In 2013 Pahang, 40,819 people were evacuated.

In 2014 Kelantan, more than 170,000 had to be evacuated. The scale of destruction that I saw with my own eyes in Gua Musang, Manek Urai and Kuala Krai was just beyond comprehension. Even Kuala Muda in the aftermath of the 2004 Tsunami did not look as bad. Yes, I was there too in 2004 with a Malaysia Airlines aircraft captain friend (he now flies for Air Asia).

I took the above photo at Kampung Bukit Tebuk near Chiku while on the way from Kuala Krai to Gua Musang on 31 December 2014 because I saw this man at the Manek Urai relief center queuing for food for his family earlier in the morning. At this point he had walked 14 kilometres to get home.

Pulau Pinang in November 2017 saw 71,294 people evacuated. This was when Lim Guan Eng was seen crying for help…literally.

In comparison, the total number of evacuees in Sarawak as of last night was 4,859 people. It is a number that is still very manageable by the state government and its NGOs.

I have not seen any NGO in Sarawak running a donation campaign to collect cash and kind for flood victims there. If there is such a fund I am sure people in Malaya (a term fondly used by Sarawakians for Peninsular people which isn’t a nice term) would be glad to chip in. After all, I have relatives in Samarahan, Kuching, Miri, and friends working on the Pan Borneo Highway project that are affected by the floods.

Nor do I see throngs of 4X4 vehicles (which happens to be in abundance in Sarawak) carrying relief items to affected areas like it was done in the Peninsular.

How can anyone start anything if the Sarawakians themselves don’t do anything for fellow Sarawakians? I promise not to ask how many Sarawakians actually donated to flood victims and relief missions in Kelantan, Pulau Pinang, Johor and Pahang. To where should we Malayans send our donations to?

So, the feverish pace you saw in the Peninsular was because of the magnitude of the floods and the destruction they caused. The absence of any social media hype by socmed practitioners in Sarawak on the flood situation says all that.

I am not saying that the flood situation in Sarawak is not bad. Any flood is bad. But it doesn’t do justice when people sit and complain about it on social media expecting to be spoon fed. Just start something instead of whining. There are many here on this side of the South China Sea who would want to help.

A Flood Of Incompetence

I am surprised that a former Brigadier General doesn’t know that you cannot simply deploy the military without explicit instructions

Former army Brigadier turned politician, Arshad Raji, seems to like the attention the electronic media has been according him lately, and he speaks about a wide spectrum of issues – from falling for Mahathir’s fake news of the so-called withdrawal of his close police protection, to the management of the floods in Pulau Pinang.

In the latter issue it was as if he was trying to downplay the Deputy Prime Minister and the BN-led Federal Government’s involvement in the management of the floods.  He was right about some of it, though.  Under the National Security Council Directive No.20, when a state emergency is declared following a disaster affecting two districts or more, the State Disaster Management Committee can call for assistance in the form of assets, finance, and other resources on the state level, and limited form of assistance from federal agencies within the state – the police, armed forces, civil defence etc.  This does not require a call to the Deputy Prime Minister at all.

Look at Level II Disaster Management by the State

The State Disaster Management Committee is chaired by the Chief Minister or Menteri Besar while the Chief Executive is the State Secretary.  But what Arshad Raji did not know, or chose to not reveal during his “press conference” was the fact that until now Lim Guan Eng has not declared a state of emergency in Pulau Pinang despite floods inundating four out of five districts in Pulau Pinang namely Seberang Prai Utara, Seberang Prai Selatan, Barat Daya and Timur Laut.

Don’t blame the Federal Government. Tokong himself did not declare a state of emergency

I lived in Pulau Pinang, on the pulau itself for three years and four months in the late 1980s and never once saw floods affecting the state on this level.  The most I would see is pockets of areas in Datuk Keramat and the Green Lane (Jalan Masjid Negeri) – Jalan Air Itam junction near the State Mosque.  Even then you could still pass the areas on your motorcycle.  Having eight deaths because of floods in a year was unheard of (one died earlier in September while seven this time around).

No rain, no floods” seems to be the best of Lim Guan Eng’s quotes pertaining to floods in Pulau Pinang.  This time, the deluge is blamed on a tyhoon that is battering Vietnam, and rightfully so.  Every time a typhoon hits Vietnam, the northern Peninsular states would receive an extra amount of rainfall.  And since 1881, Vietnam has been battered by 68 typhoons excluding the one that has just hit them.  However, the shocking bit is where 119 flash floods have hit Pulau Pinang since 2013!  That is 2.5 flash floods per month for the last four years!

I wonder why this is the case of late?

It does not take an engineer to tell you that when you do excessive hillside developments, the soil cannot absorb the rainwater as the oxidised topsoil would be transformed into a clay-like material.  The run-offs would be washed into monsoon drains, clogging up the roadside gutters and making the storm sewers shallower as silt accumulates at the bottom.  These drains flow out to sea along natural coastlines, which is why monsoon drains act as gravity sewers.  In Pulau Pinang, you can hardly find a natural coastline as most beaches with gradient have been reclaimed, and the gradient tapers off, diminishing the gravity effect.  Storm water therefore does not flow into the sea but accumulates and saturates the flatter grounds causing floods.

But who cares about eight deaths this year due to floods and one last year when you can make money selling condominium units to the rich?  But it is this excessive development by the state government that was voted in by the Pulau Pinang people that is now killing the Pulau Pinang people and have caused untold miseries.

Everyone also knows that when it is the new moon or full moon, tides will be higher than usual, and that makes it harder for storm drains and rivers to flow water out to sea, what more when there is excessive water caused by the backlash of a typhoon.

Phases of the moon for November 2017

You can see that from 1 November 2017 the moon was in an advanced waxing gibbous phase and full moon over Georgetown, Pulau Pinang occured at 12.40am on Saturday, 4 November 2017.  The Malaysian Meteorological Department had issued a series of bad weather warnings for the northern Peninsular states from 31 October 2017, and every day from then on.

Met Department warning for the northern states on 31 October 2017
Met department warning the northern states that the bad weather was going to last at least four days from 1 November 2017
Another Met department warning on 2 November 2017 reminding the northern states that the bad weather was going to last at least four days until 4 November 2017
Another Met department warning issued on 3 November 2017 for the northern states that the bad weather was going to last at least until 4 November 2017

You can see that there was ample warning by the Malaysian Meteorological Department that the weather was going to be bad for four days.  What did Lim Guan Eng or his State Disaster Management Committee do?  Nothing, until it got really bad.  And at 3.00am, Lim Guan Eng became a cry baby and called the Deputy Prime Minister for help, without even declaring a state emergency.

Lim Guan Eng called the DPM for help at 3am on 5 November 2017, five days after the initial warning was issued by the Malaysian Meteorological Department

Where was his State Disaster Management Committee?  Why had they not sat down to make preparations to mitigate the situation?

Lim Guan Eng was quick to point fingers at Kelantan in the aftermath of the disastrous floods at the end of 2014.  He pointing out that corruption and the incompetency of the Kelantan state government, as well as the rampant hillside clearing as the causes of the floods.

Well, we know that there is rampant hillside clearing in Pulau Pinang.  We also know that the Chief Minister was charged on two accounts of corruption, and we also know now that it was the incompetency of the Pulau Pinang State Disaster Management Committee led by Lim Guan Eng himself as the Chairman that had caused the situation to be worse than it should be.

Lim Guan Eng’s government’s incompetence has killed one person in floods last year, 21 people in a landslide this year, and eight people in the recent floods.  This is the government that the Pulau Pinang people have voted in, and the Chief Minister chosen by them.

Pakatan’s promise
Pakatan’s promise
Pakatan’s promise

119 flash floods have occured since the promises above was made.  And Lim Guan Eng’s government is not worried.  Going by the rate the floods are killing people, there won’t be that many people left to complain about the floods – problem solved.

Pulau Pinang Values Life At RM400 Only

The video above by Fahmi Hamid on the devastation caused by the recent foods in the Farlim area of Pulau Pinang is proof of Tokong Lim Guan Eng’s failure to keep his promise to rid the island-state of its floods problems within the first term of his administration.

Last year the DAP-led government blamed the Federal Government for the floods

Over-development, excessive hill-clearing activities have long been identified as the culprit of the never-ending flash floods in Pulau Pinang.  As a person who lived on the island for three years, I can vouch that compared to what the flash floods of the late 1980s and early 1990s looked like, the flash floods of recent years are of biblical proportions.

Yet, as seen in the above and following screenshots, the DAP-led government consistently blames others for its failures.  Last year, Jagdeep Singh Deo blamed the Federal Government for failing to cough up RM321 million in allocations for a flood mitigation project.

However, it has been revealed that the Tokong had pleaded ignorance of a reprimand by the Auditor-General in the 2016 report tabled in July 2017 that the Majlis Perbandaran Seberang Perai had not dispensed its RM22.09 million drainage contribution to the state’s Department of Irrigation and Drainage.

How can the DAP government led by Tokong claim to be efficient when it doesn’t even know that there is a Auditor-General report that has reprimanded it?

That is how efficient the DAP-led Pulau Pinang state government that the voters had voted in to see change.  They don’t read reports, they don’t even make an attempt to fulfill promises, and conveniently blame others.

Yet they got voted in again for the second term because people in Pulau Pinang love the free water the Tokong is providing them from time to time, not to mention achieving the higher than the national average cancer cases in Sungai Lembu alone.  Penang-lang love records and achievements.

RM2 billion had been given to Pulau Pinang between 2006 and 2010 for flood mitigation projects, a four-year period which half of it was under the DAP administration.

Zainal Abidin Osman (BN-Pulau Pinang) said that RM1.493 billion had already been allocated

DAP Pulau Pinang Exco Chow Kow Yeow said that only RM305 million had been received by the state government.  However, the Tokong admitted that it could be due to his state government’s inaction over the Auditor-General’s report that had caused the funds to be withheld.

Tokong admitted the failure of his state government to act on the Auditor-General’s report

The failure of the DAP-led state government of Pulau Pinang under Lim Guan Eng’s leadership has caused untold losses that can never be recouped.  The DAP state government could pay RM177.5 million to a consultant for a paper that is far from being completed but cannot fork out the same amount to mitigate floods in Pulau Pinang.

This year alone two major flash floods have caused misery to thousands including the loss of two lives since July 2017.

On 14 July 2017, Lim Kean Chuan, 59, drowned when he fell into a monsoon drain during the flash floods at Jalan Sungai Ara.

Kean Chuan had parked his car by the roadside to walk to higher ground after being inundated by the flood waters. He, however, fell into the monsoon drain as the high water levels obstructed the drain’s opening from view.

In last week’s flash floods, Noor Afidah Yahunas, 30, fell from her motorcycle into a culvert in Paya Terubong, and was found caught between tree branches by rescuers in a river near Bukit Jambul, 1.5 kilometers away from where she fell nearly 24 hours after she was reported missing.

Yet, the Tokong had announced, on 15 November 2016, a state budget allocation of RM220 million for 2017, independent of the Federal allocation, for the mitigation of floods.  The question is, what has happened to this RM220 million?  Since 2017 is almost over, whose pocket has it gone into?

Penang-lang should be questioning the Tokong and Chow Kow Yeow on this missing allocation

And to make Pulau Pinang people affected by the floods happy again, the Tokong will give them RM400 as a one-off payment for their miseries.

RM400 for your misery, and for that one life lost because of the incompetency of the DAP-led government

And I am sure with the RM400 payment, people in Pulau Pinang will forgive the Tokong for his incompetency, jump with joy, forget the destroyed electronics inside their car, ignore the deaths caused, and vote for DAP once again.

That is how much the DAP values your life, dear Pulau Pinang voters.  Only RM400.

Defence: Challenging Times Ahead

The 18th Chief of RMAF flanked by his Deputy and Commanders at a press conference after delivering his Prime Directives
The 18th Chief of RMAF flanked by his Deputy and Commanders at a press conference after delivering his Prime Directives

I want all of us to work together to see how best can we meet our objectives even with budget constraints,” said the 18th Chief of the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF), General Dato’ Sri Hj Affendi bin Buang TUDM to the officers, men and women of the RMAF after delivering his Prime Directives as the new Chief of RMAF.

General Affendi did not mince words when speaking to the audience about the tough times that the RMAF will face. “We must ensure that our assets and people are prepared and competent to undertake these challenges without compromising the integrity of the sovereignty of our nation, and at the same time be able to service the general population in times of need,” he added.

General Affendi thanked his predecessor General Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Roslan bin Saad TUDM who has just retired for leaving a solid foundation for the former to work on to ensure that the RMAF remains relevant to the nation.

General Affendi then outlined the focus areas of his Prime Directive – Preparedness, Effective Maintenance Culture, Magnificent Human Capital Development, Technological Migration, Excellent Management Culture and Welfare.

Stressing especially on human capital development General Affendi said that trained next generation air force’s (AF-NG) personnel need to possess traits like intelligence, analytical, robust, IT-savvy, forward thinking and innovative. For this to be achieved, competency-based training and assessment (CBTA) will be given to all levels of personnel.

Speaking to reporters after the ceremony General Affendi stressed that CBTA will complement real-life competency requirements, especially for the front-line pilots whose skills need of certain competency-level.

The budget constraints will no doubt hamper us from carrying out many things. However, the RMAF has been thinking outside the box and have been adapting to the situation by emphasising on technology such as the use of simulators to complement actual flying for the pilots. This would allow us to maintain our levels of skills and readiness even with a dwindling budget,” he said.

At no time will the RMAF allow for anything that would cause to undermine the sovereignty of the nation. That is the reason we exist and that is our main objective,” he said in reply to questions on budget constraints as well as the development in the South China Sea.

On the question of the floods in the East Coast of the Peninsular, General Affendi said the RMAF is closely monitoring the developments. As of yesterday, a EC-725 helicopter has been deployed to the Gong Kedak Airbase to assist with flood relief operations if needed.  More helicopters will be deployed depending on how the situation develops.

RMAF EC-725 helicopter in action during the floods in the East Coast in 2014
RMAF EC-725 helicopter in action during the floods in the East Coast in 2014

On LIMA ’17, General Affendi said that the planning had commenced a year ago and the RMAF is committed towards providing the best air show.  Foreign air display teams have been invited. However, there is no confirmation from any of the teams invited as of today.

On the question of assets procurement General Affendi stressed that although there is a budget constraint the Government has allowed the RMAF to plan for assets procurement including the Multi-Role Combat Aircraft.  These assets would be procured once the budget is there.

Earlier, a handing-over and taking-over ceremony took place for the Air Support Commander and Air Operations Commander posts.  Lieutenant-General Dato Paduka Wan Normazlan bin Che Jaafar TUDM took over the Air Support Commander post from Lieutenant-General Dato’ Hj Abd Mutalib bin Datuk Hj Ab Wahab TUDM who in turn took over the Air Operations Commander post from Lieutenant-General Dato’ Sri Ackbal bin Hj Abdul Samad TUDM who is now the Deputy Chief of the RMAF.

General Dato’ Sri Hj Affendi bin Buang TUDM who is also the first RMAF Chief from Sarawak was given a guard of honour comprising of three RMAF officers and 104 other ranks from the RMAF Regiment led by Major Mohd Syafik bin Saadun TUDM.

General Affendi saluting the RMAF colour
General Affendi saluting the RMAF Regiment’s colour

The Final Curtain?

Another former Minister has spoken out at Najib Razak’s apparent use of Anwar Ibrahim to attack his opponents. Former Minister, Sanusi Junid, has hinted that if Najib does not step down now, UMNO and BN will suffer.

Anwar, who has been in TV3’s bad books, and who also issued a general ban on broadcast journalists from that station to cover any of his or PKR’s events, has been given full attention by the station to lambast Najib’s opponents within UMNO.

Najib, who took over the helm of both UMNO and BN from a weak predecessor, is seen by the public as a weaker Prime Minister. That the BN fared as bad as or worse than GE12 in the last general elections says a lot about his leadership. While he does try to have a hands-on approach on many things which is good, his policies and decisions made seem to lack any prior thoughts, begging the public to ask if it is really Najib’s consultants who do the thinking while Najib just read the scripts and smile or frown as directed.

I, for one, don’t give much thought on the political squabbles. I am more concerned with those who incessantly try to run down the country; but this latest tiff between Najib and his critiques started off with the 1MDB fiasco, and it seems that someone has unearthed the leadership’s Pandora Box.

Who after Najib is none of my concern. Whoever commands majority support of UMNO with the blessing of the component parties in BN should be able to lead. However, the UMNO tradition (budaya) of never to shine before your leader does ought to be done away with. I was told that during the recent floods, although the Deputy Prime Minister was in town while many including the Prime Minister were away shopping or golfing abroad, the former did not act swiftly until instructed to do so. How true this is, I don’t know but if so, it truly is damaging that you cannot decide as a Deputy Prime Minister on behalf of the Prime Minister who was away golfing. “Mana boleh! Ini budaya UMNO!” said the person to my father when asked why did the Deputy Prime Minister not act since the Prime Minister was on holiday abroad.

Najib could easily have called for an impromptu press conference to announce that the DPM was to head the disaster management team while he had to golf with Obama to discuss pressing matters. There was a whole army of foreign press there that he could have used to convey the message to worried Malaysians, but he did not. Was he waiting for his consultants to come up with a script and a set of more acceptable wardrobe?

It was equally bad that (I’m very sure it was his consultants who prepared this line) Najib made only the home and business insurance issue as THE reason for not declaring an emergency in the flood-stricken states. There was a bunch of other stronger reasons that could have been used, but maybe his consultants thought it was best to use the insurance issue as that was more personal for flood victims. Well, it backfired. Miserably! Adding insult to injury, the disaster-relief operation was like a dumbstruck Medusa. Every agency was doing its own thing with no clear command and control until much later. Given that the head of the National Security Council is an administrator rather than a field man, and has had no experience managing disasters, with the Prime Minister being abroad, things did not move as they should have.

Anyway, I have digressed from the issue of Najib’s quarrel with his detractors. But I think Najib’s continuous display of dishing out half-baked policies and display of desperately holding on to the Premiership simply means that he is no Tun Razak, who was brilliant in character and leadership that even political dinosaurs like Lim Kit Siang misses him, and Dyana Samad remembers Tun Razak’s superb leadership although she was still swimming inside her father’s balls when the Tun died.

UMNO needs to evolve and revamp itself in order to stay relevant in the next general elections. But first, it needs a serious change in leadership.

Kenapa Tidak Isytihar Darurat Bencana?

image

Di atas adalah petikan takrif “Darurat Bencana” yang menjadi tajuk perbualan ramai terutamanya apabila keadaan banjir di lima negeri terutamanya negeri-negeri pantai timur Semenanjung menjadi lebih teruk. Dari takrif tersebut yang diberikan melalui Arahan Majlis Keselamatan Negara No.20, jelas bencana banjir yang melanda kita sekarang masih tidak menepati kehendak maksud “Darurat Bencana.”

Namun, masih ramai yang merasakan bahawa Perdana Menteri harus mengisytiharkan Darurat Bencana tanpa mengetahui akibat pengisytiharaan keadaan tersebut.

Untuk yang  tanya kenapa tiada pengisytiharaan darurat bencana, berikut adalah jawapannya: Sekiranya diisytiharkan darurat, mana-mana perkara yang boleh dituntut melalui insurans, tidak akan boleh dituntut termasuklah insurans bangunan dan kenderaan yang diambil untuk premium bencana. Untuk masa ini, di Kelantan, keseluruhan pembiayaan kos banjir telah diambil alih oleh Kerajaan Persekutuan sepenuhnya melalui agensi-agensi Kerajaan. Jawatankuasa Pengurusan Bencana pun telah diambil alih oleh Kerajaan Persekutuan semalam hasil persertujuan pihak Kerajaan Negeri.

Ini adalah kerjasama Kerajaan Persekutuan dan Negeri di mana YAB MB Kelantan juga telah keluarkan kenyataan bahawa buat masa ini tiada keperluan untuk isytiharkan darurat dan semua pengisytiharan juga akan dibincangkan bersama dengan Kerajaan Persekutuan.

Pengisytiharan Darurat juga akan menyebabkan Kerajaan tidak boleh lagi menahan keluar pelabur yang telah membuat pelaburan sebelum ini di kawasan banjir tanpa apa-apa pampasan kepada pihak Kerajaan dan pekerja sekiranya tertakluk kepada perjanjian pelaburan.

Ia secara langsung beri impak kepada negeri tersebut.

Harap maklum.