In a press statement issued on the 20th of July 1998, Lim Kit Siang ripped the Penang state administration apart following a freak rainstorm that wreaked havoc on the island state. According to the then DAP Secretary General, the downpour crippled the state’s capital and turned it into the “Venice of the East.” In light of this, TTF has undertaken to repost the article verbatim and weave through it responses (in blue, italic) to each point the senior Lim raised. So, without further ado, let us begin:
THE THIRD FORCE
Kit Siang: It is most shocking that despite being the second-term Penang Chief Minister, the flashflood problem in Georgetown has become increasingly worse instead of better – and this despite all the promises of tens and hundreds of millions of ringgit of flood mitigation schemes promised by the Gerakan government in the past two decades.
TTF: Your son, Lim Guan Eng, spent a meagre RM11 million yearly (on average) between the years 2008 and 2016 for flood mitigation works. But he has nothing to show for it. In the past three months alone, the state has been stricken by three major floods, the last being the result of a typhoon that struck Penang last Saturday, the 4th of November 2017.
The floods were the worst to have ever hit the island city. Areas around George Town, Balik Pulau, Paya Terubong, Sungai Pinang and the greater Bayan Baru registered water levels that far exceeded danger thresholds. And let’s not talk about the mainland – it was so bad, flood waters had yet to recede in some areas at the time of writing this response.
The flood situation was exacerbated by the wanton sale of state land to cash-rich developers for luxury high-rise projects only millionaires – and in some cases, multi-millionaires – could afford. The unregulated development caused infrastructural and other related expenses to balloon and siphoned a significant sum of the billions the state raked in from the sale of land.
And that is one among many reasons why your son’s administration couldn’t afford to spend more on flood mitigation projects. All of this came together to haunt Penangites last weekend when existing drainage systems and rivers could not accommodate new capacity requirements brought about by massive changes to the state’s topographical map.
Kit Siang: Last night’s crippling of Georgetown is one such example, where as a result of a three-hour downpour, Georgetown became the “Venice of the East”. The Sungai Pinang water level rose to a dangerous 2.81 metre, with traffic in most parts of the Georgetown coming to a standstill between 8.30 p.m. and midnight.
TTF: The floods that hit Penang last weekend were the worst in the state’s history, with water in Sungai Pinang, Sungai Air Itam and Sungai Dondang far, far exceeding danger levels of 2.83 metres, 6.58 metres and 21.88 metres, respectively. And this happened almost 20 years after you came out with your press statement and nine years since your son was given a chance to set things right. But your son only made things worse – Penang has seen worse rainstorms, none of which caused so much damage in just one day!
Kit Siang: Among the areas badly hit were Magazine Street, Noordin Street, Pesgrave Street, Macallum Street, Sandiland Street, Love Lane, Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah, Transfer Road, Anson Road, Perak Road, Campbell Street, McNair Street, C.Y.Choy Road, Pulau Tikus, Leith Street, Fettes Park.
In Hong Seng Estate in Mount Erskine, the area was flooded waist-deep, with several motorcycles washed away.
TTF: Waist deep and you’re complaining??? Last weekend, flood water levels were registered at 14 to 15 feet above the roofs of houses in some areas!!
Kit Siang: Penang Chief Minister, Tan Sri Dr. Koh Tsu Koon should explain whether the State Government is turning Penang into the “Venice of the East” where gondolas will be provided by the MPPP for tourists to go round Georgetown after two to three hours of downpour – which will give Penang another unusual tourist draw?
TTF: Actually, I met a random group of tourists (video below) last Sunday and interviewed them. Off camera, some expressed shock and dismay at how bad the situation had become. On camera (as you can see for yourselves), they were more polite. Last weekend, it was more “the mighty rivers of Macau” in George Town than it was the “Venice of the East!!!”
Kit Siang: When Georgetown was crippled by flashfloods the first time Tsu Koon became Chief Minister in 1990, he flew down to Kuala Lumpur in a highly-publicised trip to meet the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad to ask for a special allocation for flood alleviaton scheme for Georgetown.
TTF: And did your son not make a public plea to Dato’ Seri Dr. Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, the very man whose boss he accused in ceramahs of being a kleptocrat? The last I checked, Tsu Koon did nothing of that sort to Mahathir.
Kit Siang: Nothing good seems to have come out of such a trip, and after the landslide victory of the Barisan Nasional in Penang in the April 1995 general elections, Tsu Koon does not seem to be moved or concerned any more by floods crippling Georgetown, although they are becoming worse with passing months.
TTF: So the conclusion here is that it was useless asking Mahathir for help to ‘save’ Penang. Back then, he was Prime Minister. Today, he’s nothing. So what the hell makes you think he can ‘save’ Malaysia???