Sunday 4 January 2015

When The Flood Recedes, What Do We Do?

There is no further need to discuss about the extent of damages caused by the recent flooding at the East Coast. Kelantan is one of the affected states and also one of the worst affected. As I am writing, the extent of the damages is still being counted (I hope) by the authorities (plural emphasised!).

There is no doubt of the citizenship spirits being demonstrated by ordinary Malaysians in helping those affected. I am sure many people received donations, assistance and help from people who they do not know or even met in their lives before. The volunteer themselves distributed goods donated by those who remained faceless, using facilities e.g. helicopters and 4x4 vehicles that came from nowhere. The faces of the donors will remain faceless and won't appear on tv or even social media.

While there are still places and people where food and other needs are still required, there will be a stage where more serious thinking (I am not seeing that being demonstrated, perhaps because we cannot see what in people's mind) need to be demonstrated and executed.

The victims could be classified into several categories. Those who lost their houses, those with houses but lost everything else, those whose source of income disappeared and those who can't move on with their lives because those around them fall into the earlier categories. Each of them would require different kind of assistance and this is where data and information become important. Unfortunately, this task would have to be taken by people with authorities, no amount of volunteerism could make up any shortcoming of those with power.

I am not sure how much is being worked on the re-construction stage of this continuing episode. For those who lost everything, how would they re-start their  lives? Would they be building their homes at the same spot where their houses were built, at the low level areas which are flooded year-in and year-out? Could they be moved to higher grounds? Do they need to pay for the land? Wow, so many questions! I managed to ask one of them about when would they be rebuilding their homes. The answer was very simple, "We had been rebuilding our homes a number of times and they kept on being destroyed when it flooded. Each time we build, it would cost us RM 30,000 to RM 40,000. We had given up!".

Many of us would be able to recall the song Bangau Oh Bangau. It is about finding the cause of a thin stork, which the blame eventually fall on the snake. Honestly, I have not seen any Bangau in Kuala Krai or it's surrounding area but I also hope that this song is not going to be played and replayed as well.

Friday 2 January 2015

When Malaysians Come Together (Updated)

Without fail Malaysians will demonstrate their citizenship commitments when there is a need. This is more obvious when unfortunate events occur, when their fellow citizen brothers and sisters have to cope with challenges beyond their control.

The major flood which hit the east coast of Malaysia, especially Kelantan has created opportunities for Malaysians to come together again. Instead of just expressing their sadness on social media, many turn up themselves with all sort of relief goods to be given to those experiencing difficulties. The road leading to Kuala Krai was jammed with cars, lorries and 4x4 transporting relief goods and volunteers.

The extent of catastrophe this time around is beyond the experience of the past. Many had to leave their homes at the very last minute, when the water was rushing into their home, as they thought that they were on safe grounds, as before. Many lost their homes which were swept away and many more lost their valuables. Worse, while the water had receded days ago, some are still without proper meals and basic hygienic utilities. Electricity and water have not been reconnected because many electric sub-stations and water pumping stations were out of commissioned due to the flood.

If you were at ground zero, you will be amazed with the spirit of being Malaysians being manifested by people from all walk of life. Relief goods are arriving from everywhere, sent by so many people from all parts of the country and the roads leading to the affected areas were jammed with so many 4x4 and other vehicles ferrying goods and volunteers. While there were helicopters ferrying the same, many individuals and corporations hired helicopters to help out. It was sad when I was informed at one stage, aviation fuel was lacking.

A lot more could be written about this episode of flooding but not enough words would be able to record the sense of brotherhood being displayed but suffice to say that we, Malaysians, do have big hearts and could be counted on when needed.

Perhaps we could have more of this during peace time, when more efforts need to be provided to strengthen key public institutions which are critical for the society to be taken care of. As a country we need to be competitive. We cannot rely on historical service level and performance standards to address future demands and needs of our fellow Malaysians. Clearer exit policies for civil servants who clearly fail to perform must be made transparent and strictly enforced. It is not worth spending taxpayers money on people who only warn their official chairs but fail to deliver when the people on the street (kampungs included) really need the services.

More contributions would be needed to held the unfortunate Malaysians to move on with their lives after the flood. Kept on being Malaysians and let's live the Malaysian spirit.