By Pearl Lee
November 10, 2017
THERE’S so much wrong going around that it feels odd when we do something right.
The harrowing sights of the Penang floods aftermath are a grim reminder of what Mother Nature is capable of doing.
There are those who have taken a swipe at Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng for ‘crying’ for military assistance from Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
The Deputy Prime Minister had instead said the state was not ready for such a catastrophe as preparations to save flood victims could have been carried out immediately had the Meteorological Department informed the National Disaster Committee earlier.
Extraordinary amount of continuous rainfall and strong winds are said to be the reasons for the flooding. But talks are rife that over-development, flatten hilltops and poor irrigation in Penang contributed to the disaster.
But this column is not about fault finding. People have lost their lives, loved ones, properties, businesses and sources of income.
We’ve seen how Malaysians, regardless political alliances, believes and backgrounds, step up to offer assistance to those in need.
Many from various parts of the country have taken leave from work, making trips to the island to send food, toiletries and medical supply to victims.
- 24 members from Buaya Puchong 4×4 Adventure team from the Klang Valley who sent two tonnes of rice and 70 cartons of mineral water. They also put smiles on the faces of Penangites as they handed out 1,200 pieces of doughnuts during their visit. Member Fred Leong said the group has been helping flood victims for the past 10 years.
- 45 resident association members of Tainia Apartment in Kota Damansara, Petaling Jaya and their community policing team who sent food items, assisted the injured, and helped those whose vehicles were stranded in flood water. Committee member Jamilah Mokhtar said a second team is on its way to Penang to offer more assistance. The group had previously assisted victims of the 2014 Kelantan floods.
Others who deserve special mention are:
- Sapno Tukijo, a 50-year-old bilal who allowed non-Muslims to seek refuge at the Taman Free School surau. Surau chairman Zakaria Mydin also revealed committee members rescued dogs and allowed the dogs to remain in the mosque compound until flood waters receded.
- Hikers Tony Lim, 62, and Quek Teow, 60, who spent two hours hiking up Penang Hill to deliver medication and other essential supplies to a group of 36 people stranded on the hill since Sunday.
The actions of these outstanding Malaysians ought to be acknowledged. How many out there are willing to leave their homes and skip work to offer a lending hand and a shoulder to cry on to those struck by tragedy?
There are many other ordinary Malaysians who are putting service above self. Although not all good deeds are reported or shared on social media, these kind souls will continue to do good for fellow Malaysians.
There are many unresolved issues in the country today. Constant water cuts and poor drainage are just the very few bread and butter issues that continue to affect the masses.
Bigotry, unaccounted spending, deforestation are other matters that require urgent attention.
Often times, the excuses given by those who are able to bring about changes are the same. They claim their hands are tied because of politics or the self interest of certain quarters.
The episode in Penang has shown us that even political foes Barisan Nasional and DAP are capable of working together and that common good can be achieved through such unity.
It doesn’t take much to put the people’s need ahead of self interest.
I don’t wish to see Penang suffer the same fate again. But I do hope to see meaningful alliances by opposing parties being forged if required for the common good of all Malaysians.
Award winning journalist Pearl Lee was formerly news editor of Malay Mail. She is now a media and communications strategist. She tweets at @pearllee22 and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org