Tuesday 13 November 2012

It is the Flood Season

Flood is normally considered bad and I don't have problem with such view. Many innocent people lost their belongings because of flood, life included. However, for someone who was brought up in a flood prone area, Kota Bharu, flood could trigger a different sort of feeling.

The North-East Monsoon normally blows towards the East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia from November until March. The rain that comes with it could be very heavy. Normally if rains heavily in the highlands in the south of Kelantan (Hulu Kelantan) and the wind blows strongly in the north, the Kelantan River will be swollen and places like Kota Bharu will be flooded. And yes, the flood was so frequent that it happened closed to annually when I was a little boy living near the river bank in Kota Bharu.

Tangga Krai, the place where the state of flooding in Kelantan is measured
Boys being boys, we love the flood season. Many of us will chopped down banana trees and tied the trunk together into rafts. Normally, when the flood is at its peak the rain will stop and people will go out in numbers to see for themselves the situation around Kota Bharu town, sort of a festival then.

Somehow, forty years down the road, instead of hearing about flood in the East Coast, we hear places in the West Coast being hit by flood towards the end of the year. Has the weather pattern changed? Or the flood could be the result of indiscriminate logging in areas which normally act as buffer to towns and cities? 

In pursuing development, we may have forgotten the consequences of transforming our landscape into concrete jungles. Given the attractive returns from property development and the pressure to provide accommodation to our increasingly growing population, the risk of having an unsustainable ecosystem is increasing by the day.

Time to make money, a lorry is turned a public transport
Who should solve this problem? Our local authorities, state government, federal government? Many of us will never feel that flood is our common problem. Over time, our society is slowly turning into a society which is collectively irresponsible, our problems must be solved by people other than us! We are behaving like this due to our selfishness and our eagerness to accumulate wealth. 

A very simple example of our apathy is the cleanliness of our toilets. Most people don't bother to keep public toilets clean because we do not know who was the last person who used the toilet. This collective irresponsibility is affecting us in many ways including how we govern our society and the resources which we own in common as citizens of this country. I always use my "Toilet Index" as a measure of level of responsibility of a particular society. So far, the Japanese is ahead of the rest.

Unless the flood problems eventually turns bad, many of us won't bother. Worst, we will wait for somebody else to act and that somebody will never be us.

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