By now, victims of the massive floods in most parts of the country are beginning to return to their ‘homes’. Yes, in some cases there are no homes to return to especially in the districts of Gua Musang, Kuala Krai and Pasir Mas, amongst the worst hit areas in last year’s floods.
Many have been saying that all Malaysians should now put aside differences and work together to help these very unfortunate people who have been affected most badly. We cannot agree more but there are some very critical issues that must be deliberated upon. These issues cannot be just cast aside and we just ‘go back to work as usual’.
What are these issues? They are the issues that first of all contribute to the state of affairs that we now find ourselves in. Accepted, that the massive floods were in large part due to the unusual rainfall that fell continuously for days in the affected areas, especially Kelantan’s hinterland. But can we just keep on accepting such “facts” and do little or nothing to seek remedy?
From time immemorial, we have been told that there is the northeast monsoon that brings a lot of rain to the north and east coast states especially Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang and east Johor. We are also told that these rains cause widespread floods and this is the usual phenomena that we have to face. Since independence for over 50 years we just sit back and accept this situation. And of course once in a while it is not the ‘normal’ flood, but the disastrous ones like what we experienced recently.
Isn’t there something odd about this? Why must the poor people of the east coast states- already poor economically for ages – suffer such a ‘fate’? Is it really fated that they should just wait for the rains to come and destroy whatever they have and each year start life anew? Why can’t this change? At least they would not have to bear the full brunt of the monsoon season if conditions changed.
Any administration that cares for its people and has a vision would have come up with proper planning to overcome this perennial issue. Knowing well that these floods mean economic disruption and loss and massive damage to practically everthing. At the very least a flood of the scale that happened late December 2014, in this 21st century, with advanced technology and abundant experts in various fields would not have wrought such damage – there would be some controls. Already there have been suggestions that the rape of the environment was also responsible for the mess that has resulted, which means that something is very wrong with the economic planning part. But to be fair to the state government, Kelantan has always been the most discriminated state where basic principles of federalism have continuously been flouted to the extent that the state may have had to resort to opening up its forests as source of revenue.
But that alone is not the issue. It is what should have been done over all these years – never mind which party was in power. As we mentioned above, a government – here referring to both federal and state governments – would give utmost priority to the most pressing issue faced by its people, in this case, the perennial floods. Surely something could have been done over the years to alleviate the situation?
Now this also tells us that both the federal and state governments have to sit down and end the “given”. No more need for the people of Kelantan and for that matter Terengganu or Pahang to ‘serahkan pada takdir’ (leave it to fate) in the wrong sense. No one knows what one’s fate is, therefore without doing the utmost to alleviate one’s condition it only means that injustice is perpetrated upon the people in the name of having to give in to ‘fate’. We are also not talking about the huge sums of money for flood control that has been allocated in the recent 5-year Malaysian development plans.
Are the two governments ready to do something now?