(Laura doing her impression of a Malaysian local councillor in full regalia)
Friday June 02, 2006: I am still reeling in disbelief after reading today's newspapers, The Star and The New Straits Times reports on the killer Ulu Klang landslides. There were excuses flying around, fingers pointing in all directions, bucks being passed. All accompanied by what the NST called "Another round of rhetoric, recriminations, accusations and stern warnings." But even without having to read too closely or between the lines we all realised that nothing good is going to come out of this circus performance. Nobody is taking responsibility. Nobody is making plans to stop this from happening again. And both our Big minister and his ultimate boss, Pak Lah (quite frankly, I am beginning to not want to address him as Pak anything anymore) have not learned the difference between giving warnings and using the extent of the law to protect lives and property. In page 7 of NST, this Prime Minister of ours continues to "hope", suggest, advise. I think he should kick some sorry asses and use the big stick. This pussy footing is killing innocent people.
Well, the story did report that he has directed the Public Works Department to carry out regular inspections of hillslopes and riverbanks. This is tragic because I seem to have heard this line before. Many times. The more people die, the more regular inspections are carried out. What happens after those inspections nobody knows and more will be carried out to commensurate with the body count at the next disaster.
Read this quote from the NST..."I hope the PWD will immediately start conducting regular inspections, especially during the rainy season. If this is done, appropriate follow-up action can be taken to strengthen the affected areas."
Anything wrong? Yes. 2 things.
First it is only the PM's "hope". And we all know how those having been going south recently.
Second, the follow-up actions hoped for somehow never happen. Ask any of the victims of all the landslides. Oh, sorry they can't answer you cos they're dead.
Elsewhere in the NST it is revealed that the Ampang Jaya Municipal Council had been warned about the unstable areas that are prone to landslides. But this finding was not made public because some quarters feared that it would cause a drop in property prices!!! And so the land did slide and with it all property prices around the area. So what's the nett result? Some innocent people died. But that's okay. We got more.
In the same story, the accused developer denied any responsibility. I almost cried when I read this quote from the CEO of the company. "We were not required to build the retaining wall in our original layout plan which was approved by the authorities but decided to do so out of goodwill upon a request from the authorities." You know that the area is not safe. You continue to build and sell properties there. And a safety feature to you is just a good will gesture to satisfy some 'authorities'???
The CEO goes on to point the finger at another development which she claims is the cause for the land becoming unstable. Okay, so the other guy did it. But isn't it your corporate and human responsibility to stop work and stop selling once you made that discovery and also start actions to report and or rectify the situation?
But one 'good' thing did happen in today's NST. The Big minister obviously got his P.R. people to do the right thing. The NST published a photo of him in his "upset" mode. Yesterday, he was fuming. Remember? But the photo of him in profile didn't really give the rakyat the proper impression. And so today...