[Featured image from NST.] Heavy rain. Penang. 12 months ago. This has repeated. Another major landslide has happened in a Penang construction site and this time four bodies have been found with another three missing. In an article in TheSunDaily.my: Calls for Penang to review existing projects following landslide. According to a former PKR parliamentarian, the state government must review existing projects following two landslides here in the last 12 months. He said that the present development policies were ill-suited for the era of sustainability and climate change. “What had worked in the past may not necessarily be effective now. In the new millennium, we want development which benefit the masses, not a select few.” (Strong words here, especially the last few words.)
The landslide happened in the Bukit Kukus area while the project was a paired elevated bypass highway which links Bandar Baru Air Itam with Bukit Jambul through the hilly forest covering of Paya Terubong. Rescue work are still continuing. Penang Gerakan veteran Wong Mun Hoe however said that it is not about the policy, but the monitoring on the ground of sensitive projects such as those in hilly terrain, reclamation and coastal development. (Based on the many media reports I read these two days, I think this lacking in monitoring is quite true.). For reference, full article here in TheSunDaily.my
In another article in NST: Penang landslide: We told you so, experts tell state gov’t The message was much more blunt. Sahabat Alam Malaysia (Sam) honorary secretary R.Meenakshi said, “How many more innocent lives must we lose before serious measures are taken by the state to prevent hill slope tragedies?.” She added, “What else can we say? When we speak out against hillslope development projects, we are labelled as ‘troublemakers’. But look at what happened today. More innocent lives are lost. This is so, so sad.” Penang Forum member Dr Lim Mah Hui said the latest tragedy illustrates the risk involved when one “tampers with nature. What happened today showed that the (state’s) monitoring capacity is weak. The state government should not say that this is (just) a worksite tragedy. This should serve as the final wake up call.”
Personally, I am against scrapping of all hill slope developments. I have been to many countries where the hill slope developments are somehow without much issues. Even when I was driving in Melbourne country side and it was raining and the hill was just beside us, I felt safe because the roads were clear. Whenever I drive in Penang then and now and it rains, I always felt that I should pass the hill roads as fast as I could. Hopefully this will the final wake up call and monitoring is now strictly enforced without fear or favour. There should perhaps be a monitoring team monitoring the monitoring team too. Alternatively, share with the public what are the signs that the safety precautions are weak. We can help too.
written on 20 Oct 2018
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