Commentary Politics

Penang’s hill slope development and floods : let’s talk about it now

Soldiers helping Penang residents to evacuate during the flood

Written by Commentary

By Zaidi Azmi

November 6, 2017

YESTERDAY, Malaysians woke up to a devastating news coming out of Penang – another flood and hill slope collapse.

This time somehow, even deadlier than the ones that had previously hit the state.

Penangites said that this was the worst natural disaster in the history of Penang but then again, every disaster is the worst for someone.

Granted that Kedah and Perak were also inundated but Penang, undoubtedly, had suffered the most.

What has been particularly heart-breaking, other than the lives lost, is the fact that people are becoming more accustomed to this type of news.

Some even knew how it was going to play out – we’re shocked, we’re sad, we offer thoughts and prayers and almost on cue, someone will come out and say: “This is not the time to be criticising one another. Lives were lost.

Tacitly, it means that this is not the time for anyone to attack the DAP-led State Government.

Sometimes I wish I could use this convenient logic every time I do something wrong.

“Mom, this is not the time that we politicise the fact that I just kicked a mentally challenged kid for scratching my car with a kitchen knife. This is the time for us to unite as a family and focus on the fact that the kid’s parent might be filing a lawsuit against me.”

Back to Penang’s flood and hill slope collapse.

So, if after an environmental tragedy is never the time to talk about sloppy environmental protection policies, then when is the time?

I’m not talking about tasteless disparaging political rhetorics. I’m talking about sound policy critique.

The like of a Penang-based NGO had raised over the dangers of hill slope development which was rebuked as nonsense by the State Government just a few days before this incident happened.

Indeed, some may find it heartless to talk about such a matter a day after the incident but if we don’t strike while iron is hot, then it is unlikely that we will get anything effective done.

Because God knows how highly susceptible us Malaysians are to “tidapathy.”

Penang has, since 2013, been inundated by floodwaters for 119 times, how much more deluges will it take for ‘Penang lang’ to call a spade a spade.

I’m not saying to the people of Penang that “hey, see. you know you should now vote for Barisan Nasional”.

All I’m saying is that, isn’t there’s someone else in Penang Pakatan Harapan who is more capable than their current head of state, Lim Guan Eng?

It’s not as if Pakatan is suffering from a massive brain drain because had such was the case then they would not have leaders like Teh Yee Cheeu and Dr Norlela Ariffin.

My thoughts and prayers are with all the victims, but I am sorry that some of us live in a state where preventive measures are only discussed after a tragedy hits us.



About the author



Commentary from contributors, letters to Editor and opinion piece of readers. Publication subjected to approval from the editorial desk.