“Some villagers were forced to survive on rain water for years. Yes, rain water – the more fortunate ones dug makeshift wells that supplied them with muddy water, while others made do with red-tinted fluid that flowed from storage tanks through rusted pipes”
THE THIRD FORCE
Intermittent showers that began at 9 pm last Thursday culminated with massive torrents that wreaked havoc on the island state of Penang. The storm, which raged on for more than 18 hours, claimed the life of factory worker Noor Afidah Yajunas, whose body was found yesterday in a river at the Bukit Jambul area.
In Farlim, water levels had risen to such levels, a man was actually seen scrambling from his home and climbing over a wall just to save his life. Lim Sian See gave us a glimpse of how bad it was when he posted a picture (below) of a power sub-station that exploded right around the corner of a Chinese primary school.
Yes, that is how serious things were.
According to state exco member Chow Kon Yeow, 100 places on the island were affected by floods, with water levels at the Ayer Itam dam rising as high as 270 mm. And we’re talking record highs, highs that should have triggered an emergency response by the man who claims to advocate Competency, Accountability and Transparency (CAT). But what did he do about it?
As a matter of fact, Lim Guan Eng didn’t even consider the movement of earth down hillslopes to be a problem as long as it didn’t obstruct traffic. The Chief Minister said this despite admitting that that the road leading to the dam was obstructed by a landslide. Apparently, the need for an emergency team of experts to access the dam did not seem to be on his list of priorities.
But that’s not all.
The state also did not see the need to open an evacuation centre despite water levels rising as high as 0.5 metres at Jalan P. Ramlee. In stark contrast, the state administration of Kedah opened six relief centres in three districts to accommodate 415 evacuees from 106 families. And yet, Guan Eng claims that Penang is better managed than other Malaysian states.
Tell me, how could a better-managed state have paid an excess of RM220 million for consultancy reports but failed even to consider a relief centre for flood victims? That’s RM220 million up in smoke at one go, compared to the meagre RM11 million yearly average the state spent over nine years for ‘flood mitigation works’.
Does that make any sense??
So much money for so many projects, and yet, the Chief Minister refuses to double his efforts to resolve the state’s flood problems. Perhaps the Chief Minister forgot what he said on the 15th of December 2013. On that day, he told voters that “Pakatan Rakyat will be able to solve the flood woes of Pahang in just one term if it comes to power in the state and in Putrajaya.”
But then, maybe he didn’t forget. After all, one must remember that he was referring to the state of Pahang, not Penang. In Penang, floods are considered “acts of God” by Guan Eng’s excos (pic below, courtesy of LSS), while the Chief Minister himself does not feel that they warrant much concern.
Interesting, is it not?
It appears that Guan Eng and his excos have absolutely no regard for the safety and wellbeing of the very people who voted them into power. In the case of Kampung Sungai Lembu, neither he nor his exco, Phee Boon Poh, responded to claims I made regarding an illegal factory that choked villagers half to death – and in some cases, maybe even to death – with carcinogenic fumes and toxic ash that billowed from its confines.
Despite publishing the names of 179 villagers who petitioned against the factory, the Chief Minister ignored me and chose instead to declassify the minutes of a 2015 meeting that discussed the matter. Guan Eng used the minutes to ‘prove’ that the Department of Environment (DoE) found no evidence of pollution caused by the factory. What the Chief Minister failed to mention, however, was a tragedy that occurred within the confines of that very factory while the said meeting was in progress.
Fearing that the Chief Minister may have ‘forgotten’ some stuff, TTF undertook the very next day to dish out correspondence that took place between the DoE and MPSP. A letter by the environment guys proved that not only did the Chief Minister lie, the minutes he declassified were highly irregular and somewhat anomalous. The thought of people discovering that anomaly may just have scared the bejesus out him.
It is for this reason, above all, that Phee undertook to impress upon newsmen on the 24th of August 2017 that Dr Norlela Ariffin kept him in the dark about the letter. Ironically, it was Phee who described the exact content of that letter to her just six days after it was issued by the DoE. Not only does this prove Phee to be a natural born liar, it goes a long way to show that the minutes Guan Eng declassified on the 22nd of August 2017 was likely fabricated.
But never mind that.
What irked me most was the Chief Minister’s relentless efforts to rubbish claims that the factory may have been responsible for the spate of cancer deaths in the village. On the 15th of August 2017, he admitted that the installation brought negative impact to the people of Kampung Sungai Lembu. Eight days later, his health exco came out to declare that the ‘cancer scare’ was nothing but Barisan Nasional propaganda.
Dr. Afif Bahardin’s surprise ‘disclosure’ came amid reports that the incidence of cancer in the village far surpassed the national average by a factor of 23 times. At the time Afif made the announcement, Guan Eng was seated next to him, meaning, the Chief Minister ‘rescinded’ his apology to the people of Kampung Sungai Lembu and blamed BN for their predicament instead.
Does the Chief Minister even have compassion?
I really can’t tell, though the lack of it becomes apparent when one reflects how some villagers were forced to survive on rain water for years. Yes, rain water – the more fortunate ones dug makeshift wells that supplied them with muddy water, while others made do with red-tinted fluid that flowed from storage tanks through rusted pipes.
Rust-water seen gushing into the drain
On the 21st of May 2014, Dr Norlela highlighted the problems faced by rural villages in her constituency in an address to the state legislative assembly. The Penanti assemblywoman made no bones about the need for basic infrastructure and stressed that the state needed to rethink its strategy on development.
Almost 12 minutes into her speech, she was interrupted by Dato’ Hajah Jahara, who pointed out that the Penanti district was located within the Permatang Pauh parliamentary constituency. According to the BN rep, the Permatang Pauh seat was held by Datin Seri Dr. Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, whose representation in parliament permitted her the opportunity to seek assistance at the federal level.
Now, doesn’t that make perfect sense?
As a matter of fact, it is something I think Wan Azizah’s supporters need to consider when they cast their ballots during the upcoming general election (GE14). They need to remember that it was Lim Guan Eng who promised to look after Permatang Pauh during Wan Azizah’s absence but failed even to provide poor villagers with basic amenities for many years.
To be continued…