Malaysiakini Letter

Penang gov't should address recurring flood problem immediately

Chris Daniel Wong  |  Published:  |  Modified:

LETTER | Now that the floodwaters are receding, it is time to examine what caused the most devastating floods in Penang.

Although many acknowledged that it is caused by extreme weather, but the multiple hillslope developments together with bad town planning were also found to have contributed to landslide occurrence.

As Dr Lim Mah Hui, the former Penang Island city councillor puts it, the Penang government has approved 56 hillslope projects, to which DAP executive councillor Chow Kon Yeow has admitted that these projects have already taken place.

The Penang state government can pay RM305 million for some paperwork for the incomplete undersea tunnel study but has merely allocated RM2.5 million for 33 emergency mitigation projects. Another RM275 million was allocated to build badminton courts and swimming pools. Even the state reserves were earmarked as bonuses for civil servants. But why not make flood mitigation a priority in the state administration?

Many people applauded the state government’s move of allocating a special RM100 million "Pulau Pinang Bangkit" post-disaster fund to aid restoration effort. But why do the developers’ interests still come first, which ultimately led to the widening bald spot on Penang Hill? The RM100 million taxpayers’ money could be spared in the first place if the state government heeded the advice of Citizens Awareness Chant Group and other NGOs.

Why do the state government officials continue to deflect the meaning of flatlands and hillslope gradient to further confuse the people?

Why does the state government not heed the orange alert warning given by the Malaysian Meteorological Department (MET) on Nov 1 and the subsequent yellow alert on Nov 4?

There is a fine line between being a politician and being a bureaucrat. Many of these elected politicians in Penang still behave like the opposition instead of an administrant.

I urge the DAP-led Penang government to stop rationalising their mistakes and start doing something to address the recurring flood problem in the state.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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