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Sunday, December 14, 2008

NIAMAH!!!

Sigh... Patrick Teoh lives in the condo at the top of the hill and I live in a house right in front of him. He was in Singapore for an acting job when the landslide happened but his wife Mama Min and children, Laura & Adam were home. They too moved out immediately like we did.

But fortunately, both our properties sit on granite and not landfill soil, according to the geologist my hubby spoke to 2 days ago. So don't worry ok uncle, we're on safer grounds. We moved back in last Thurday already...

Today, for the first time, I walked down the steep flight of steps that cut through from my road to the road below (Wangsa 9) which had caved in from where the slide started (in front of those white houses on hilltop in picture). Looking down at the not too distant aftermath of the tragedy, my heart skipped a beat...how very sad for those whose homes just vanished into bits and pieces (I could see all the debris from the edge where I was standing).... and those families who have lost people they loved.

Today we, the residence committee were all suppose to meet with the MB. But for whatever reason, it didn't happen.

Neighbours at Jalan Wangsa 9 are moving out


Jalan Wangsa 9 from the inside - road caved in from the slide which started from this point on

the mud wash that avalanched, smashing 14 houses at the bottom


Today I received an email from friend Edna with an account from one of the residents affected by this landslide. Have a read.

Bukit Antarabangsa... Multiple tragedy
December 10, 2008 by drrafick

Today is D5 of the Bukit Antarabangsa tragedy. During the highland tower incident, I was part of the medical team assisting in the rescue and support effort but today I am a
victim of a similar tragedy. Something that I never thought that would have an impact on me. Relatively in comparison, what happened to those families who lost their love ones is nothing compared to what me and probably 2000 other residents had to endure past 4 days. Many tragedies took place this time around. I am not going to be diplomatic about it. I will say it the way I see it.

Within 2 hours after being made aware of landslide, I and several residents of Taman Bukit Utama activated an Ops Centre (known as TBU Ops Centre). We looked at important issues that we needed to tackle, mainly water supply, waste disposal, security, food distribution and medical evacuation. What was supposed to be our Taman Ops centre became the Ops Centre to eight "Taman" surrounding ours who were cut off from the outside world. We had no electricity, water, fixed telephone line internet. Most people had limited food in their house
as they had already planned to travel for Raya hence did not stock up any food.

Within an hour after meeting, we set up and completed a temporary water supply by laying pipes to get mountain water for the residents. Ops centre was up in the next hour and we started communication channel with the outside world via SMS and arranging food and drinking water supply. We took preventive measures to manage disease outbreak by managing waste. All this was done by a handful of people from Taman Bukit Utama Resident Association
(PPTBU). We setup the helipad for the rescue team to come in. With the help of a friend DSP Kumar, we managed to evacuate by air (Medivac) a total of 39 patients which consist of stroke patients, elderly people, kidney failure patients etc. The patients were evacuated by police air wing which was arranged by DSP Kumar from the UTK through his personal contacts. We did all this independently without the support of any help from the Base station at Ground zero.

Within the first 48 hours, while in darkness several homes were reported to have been broken into by unknown people in residential areas adjacent to TBU where there was no or minimal residential coordination among the residents. Food was scarce and cooked food from PBSM (Persatuan Bulan Sabit Merah) did not arrive in timely manner. The longest time was dinner that only reached us in the morning which was not edible by then.

While we are stuck, we had VVIP visitors that come to our area. I would say out of many people that came only a handful was actually helpful. YB Elizabeth Wong, a state Exco came with a working group had arranged for generators, fuel, candles, garbage bags and others. She came
by foot with very few people and carried relevant information without empty promises. The IGP came and gave me his personal commitment and blessing that, I continue to handle all air evacuation with the support of Police Udara.

I was told that the Minister of Information visited only the UMNO relief center at a Condo nearby. He did not come to our place. The NGO that is worth mentioning is Mercy who gave me
some drugs, INSAF who open a small medical clinic for 2 days and MAVFCL (Kapt Bala and his crew) which opened a temporary access between Athenaeum condo (the condo at the highest point on the hill) and a generator set to charge hand phones, and Bukit Utama which allowed people to leave by foot.

It is regretful to note that NO government agency deserves any mention in the first 36 hours of tragedy except for Polis Udara and Jabatan Kebajikan Masyarakat. I think they forgot about us...

While 2000 people were surviving in the darkness with the absence of proper food, Concord Hotel, Ali Maju restaurant, Burger King and many others donated tons of food. Unfortunately, no one attempted to send the food to us. Residents that were not affected by the tragedy
and the rescue workers were enjoying them. The kind of food they got down there was lavish. There was fresh roti chanai, tosai mee goreng etc. The best word to describe the situation down there is "food fiesta". Someone commented that there is so much "Teh Tarik" that you can wash your shoes with it.

The landslide is a major tragedy. The bigger tragedy is that the failure of the government to act fast enough.

While multiple agencies went into action fast, most of them work independently. On the 3rd day, we had 10 soldiers from RAMD with two officers with the rank of Major that came to our centre. I asked them a basic question on their role and the officers could not give me a straight
answer. He was very blur. To me his presence was a liability to the ops center as we had to feed an additional 10 mouth with our limited stocks.

This is not the first time a tragedy took place. The disaster relief operation was not well- coordinated. The command and control was lacking. Information dissemination to the media was scattered and caused panic among the people. Many friends and relatives outside called us and we could not entertain them, as our battery power was limited. In terms of political publicity, I would say UMNO was a clear winner. This is because they control the media.

Unfortunately, I would say that in the hearts of the people UMNO loss big time. The high-level
conduct of their people on the ground and the selective help that was given out was too much to bear. In fact, the Putri Umno head that I've known over the past few months was behaving in such a highhanded manner that that really showed her true colours. They were hoarding food and distributing them to "their people".

Their action has only reinforced my idea that the Federal and the State Government must be from different parties. This is needed for check and balance. Malaysians must realize that for the sake of our own lives and our own children lives, we have to have balance of power. It is because of the lack of balance of power; the water catchment area that is a state land that was given to MBF which is now known as "Bukit Antarabangsa". In my assessment, the government is liable. In this case, the government which was led by BN in the state of Selangor and at National level in the past 50 odd years, is liable for the suffering of the people of Bukit Antarabangsa. They are liable because they alienated unsuitable land for development. They are liable for giving the people the false sense of security by approving development plans and projects. They are liable for hiding information from the people that shows that the area that we are buying is not safe for living. I will only vote for the balance of power in the future and UMNO will not be part of that balance.

NIAHMAH!!!

4 comments:

Suzie Wong said...

like your heading (if I think wat it is). And sorry to hear about your predicament, hope things improve soon. Nice meeting you at APS and you look gorgeous as ever

Maple Loo said...

hey Ming:) Thanks for stopping by to check on me. Yeah the landslide was pretty scary especially when it happened to close to us, but we're lucky. Hehehhee www.niamah.blogspot.com is a friend's blog. He's so inspiring because he's brave and definitely does not give a fuck in sugar-coating anything for anyone. And he speaks the truth.
Nice seeing you again at APS too! Just that I was so busy organizing things, didn't have much time talking or hanging out with anyone.

Sabrina said...

Hello.
Just to let you know that I have a huge amount of respect towards you.
You're great at what you're doing and you do it your style.
Very inspiring indeed.
We need more people like you & Sasha & Maya Karin in Malaysia.
Self-directed!

~Riena

N . A . J said...

i think i saw u at the curve and you're HOT!