Friday, December 22, 2006

A Failure of Governance

When we witnessed the fury of the Katrina hurricane ripped across the American south, many would have whispered a quiet prayer that such disasters are not seen in Malaysia. The damage caused by Katrina's wrath was multiplied by the failure of governance in President George W Bush's administration whose co-ordination of aid and rescue activities was hampered by federal and state bureaucratic inertia.

Are we seeing the same happening today in Malaysia? An unusual amount of rain for the past week has resulted in many of our southern states - Johor, Melaka and Negeri Sembilan to suffer severe flood. While the cause of the flood is clearly an "act of God", did a failure of governance and a weak delivery system result in greater hardship and suffering for the rakyat?

Is it true that stranded residents in some of the worst hit areas of Segamat are being refused rescue boats without first having to foot RM150?

Is it true that discrimination is rampant in the disbursement of flood aid to the victims?

Is it true that hapless rescue staff could only watch helplessly as stranded victim Teo Sook Ching, 61 passed away because of ineffectual leadership?

Or what is worse, did our state governments make unbelievably irresponsible and incompetent decisions to release excess water from upstream rivers without warning and planning for downstream flooding and evacuation?

Melaka Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam has admitted that water was released from the Gadek water treatment plant and the Durian Tunggal pumphouse to "save" Gadek. The impact was the flooding of Taman Malim, Krubong, Taman Merdeka Jaya, Taman Thamby Chik Karim and Melaka city itself, without the downstream residents being warned and standby relief services readied in advance.

It appears that the same occured in Johor, resulting in hundreds of millions of losses and lost economic opportunities. More than 80,000 people had to be evacuated from their homes and the number is expected to rise.

More importantly, where is the national leadership in the midst of a national crisis? Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib made a call only yesterday for department stores to "provide government agencies and departments involved in flood relief with food and other necessities such as mats and blankets."

Yesterday, all the Cabinet could do was to announce more funds approved to assist flood victims (which really can't be more obvious) and that the Minister for Women, Family and Community Development, Datuk Shahrizat Abdul Jalil "had been instructed to go to Johor to monitor the situation and ensure that aid could be channelled to victims immediately."

Is that all our Government leaders are capable of? We can only live in hope that the disaster will not worsen and more lives will not be lost through improved weather conditions, for it's even harder to count on the rudderless Barisan Nasional administration.


Anonymous said...

it seems no such unusually heavy rains in johor has occurred for a very long long time..then how is it this time round.. the meteorological dept ..did they prepare the authorities of such phenomenon heavy monsoon rains ?

why is it that this unusual severity of this time flood in the various states ( esp. bad in johor ) was not well explained to the authorities to have launched a prior massive upgrading of any flood prevention and relief facilities?

or was it prompted but inefficiency and other unprofessional work ethics on the authorities part have resulted in not having done a good drainage and infrastrature job to divert unusual heavy volume flood waters..

it's real disastrous that the continual rains since so many days ago have flooded most parts of johor..& we hope the flood situation is getting better..

Anonymous said...

I shudder to think that what can our Government do to prevent losses of lives if some sort of disaster like tsunami wreaks havoc at our coastal areas someday...

Anonymous said...

Every year we have flash floods in the east coast and some parts in peninsular malaysia. This is a no brainer to predict. Surely the government can do something about it to alleviate/prevent the disastrous situation that we face year in year out? Instead we spend precious dough on sending an angkasawan to space?

Anonymous said...

Every year we have floodings at federal highway near motorola...
nothing new!

I wonder where sami vellu is....!!??

Anonymous said...

The Drainage Department will blame the town and municipal councils which will then blame the Meteorological Department and so on. In the end samy vellu will sigh and say, "It is an act of God." And the whole episode will be repeated the following years.

Anonymous said...


My in-laws are in Segamat and they're really badly affected. The news that stranded residents in some of the worst hit areas of Segamat are being refused rescue boats without first having to foot certain amount of money is confirmed true. Basically it's "No Money No Talk" situation,... and it only happens to certain communities. What has happened to Malaysia??

Mark Eleven

Anonymous said...

Bogus 'rescuers' demanding money from flood victims. Looters having a field day emptying shops and stalls. In this country claiming to be 'developed'. These incidents would not be surprising if they happened in the undeveloped parts of the world, such as Somalia and Sudan. What are the 1 million police and soldiers doing? Dreaming of their approaching 40% hike in pay? And the Prime Minister is holidaying and having fun abroad while all this 'fun' is happening in this country. If he cannot perform, he should resign and let a more capable person take over. Hugo Chavev must be laughing at his 'brother Lah' for being such a fool.

Anonymous said...

looks like Malaysia is forever going to be a mini-fractal version of the USA :D If anyone is heading down from KL to help out this weekend, and if you have space in the car for one more, drop me a line 016 235 2931

Anonymous said...

Anybody watched Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth? It's a documentary on global warming. Highly recommended. Unusual weather phenomenon will continue and occur more frequently. Our ministers cannot afford to bumble around aimlessly claiming "Act of God" and do nothing. The weather will get worst.

Anonymous said...


can you comment on the collected articles in "revolusi mental" Ed Senu