Flooding of 2021: What can we learn?

The recent floods in the year-end 2021 had taught us that the response of the rakyat was astounding and tremendous.


Teams of volunteers from all walks of life – multi-ethnic and multi religious, lent their hands to the victims. They even collaborated with each other. Kudos to the rakyat!


The floods experienced in our country demonstrated that we can rely on the rakyat to respond to national emergencies, swiftly and decisively.


However, the same cannot be said about the government agencies responsible for disaster management.


Responses by the authorities have been slow and inadequate, leading to casualties and property damages of a magnitude not seen for many decades in Selangor. 


Damages and losses incurred in the recent floods have been estimated to be in the region of RM5-6 billion.  


A question arises as to how do we solve the flooding problem? Would flooding events of such magnitude in Selangor be a new norm, considering growing concerns on the climate change effect, contributed by men’s own quest for development, and worst, greed. 


As the rakyat continue to be vulnerable to natural disasters, commitment to sustainable development is in question, particularly among the responsible authorities.  More importantly, concerns on mismanagement and corruption should be addressed urgently.   


Hannah Yeoh had brought up the issue of six retention ponds earmarked for flood prevention in Kuala Lumpur that have been alienated for development. If this is true, it raises a serious question on the overall competency and integrity of the responsible authorities.  


In the recent flood in Taman Sri Muda in Shah Alam, concern was raised as the residential area has  become a flood retention area, following various developments in the vicinity over the years. Hence the impending doom of the area being prone to flooding, with severity compounded due to unusual rainfall. 


These examples highlight the importance to ensure highest level of professionalism, competency and integrity among all relevant government agencies, as well as property developers and contractors.


Any indication of mismanagement and corruption should be addressed  seriously and urgently. Corruption is an issue which needs to be tackled with great fervour and determination. Therefore, the spirit of the rakyat to pursue the fight against corruption is of upmost importance. 


Again, to push for acceptable solutions, the rakyat has to rely on civil society and NGOs to rise up and demand for solutions. In the spirit of #rakyatjagarakyat, the civil society should advocate for the solutions to the flooding problem, based on sound research that had been conducted on preventive and mitigation measures.


Hence, concerted efforts must be taken to collate solutions to the flooding problem and present it to the authorities for actions. 


More importantly, civil society must go beyond a firefighting mindset of just providing services and welfare to the flood victims every time floods occur. Civil society must seek solutions. It is time to take the bull by the horns. 


Badlishah Sham Baharin, Deputy President of IKRAM
Mohammad Abdul Hamid, Public policy consultant

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