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East coast floods highlight Malaysia’s political failures

Only when we overcome the recurring floods, especially in Kelantan and Terengganu, can we say confidently the government has been successful

FILE PHOTO: Flood relief in Kelantan, December 2014: The poor bear the brunt of devastating floods caused by the wanton destruction of watershed areas due to state-sanctioned logging, poor planning and weak control of development. - Photograph: Hasnoor Hussain/Malaysian Insider

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One wonders why we remain at the mercy of floods year after year. 

Decades have passed since independence and yet we are unable to prevent the annual floods that inundate the east coast states of Kelantan and Terengganu. 

Yes, we all know – and so does the world, that the monsoon season that comes and goes each year, is the cause for the floods that wreaks havoc on lives, properties and businesses. 

These recurring floods cost the government a lot of money, as the various security and health agencies scramble each year to respond to the crisis.

But what no one is asking is why the state governments – despite decades of re-appointments and being re-elected to power – are unable to solve the flood crisis. 

We live in an era when even deserts can be transformed into arable, green lungs that are flourishing with crops. 

We in Malaysia like to trumpet to the world our meteoric successes that include resplendent glass-and-mortar structures. 

But blaming God decade after decade or pinning the blame on nature has remained our only explanation why many in Kelantan and Terengganu end up as flood victims.  

Do we not ask ourselves why the government that comes every five years (and sometimes sooner) remains incapable of finding solutions that are easily available in the world? 

When will we ever hold the government accountable? Or, are floods something that the people have to accept as a natural occurrence? 

The frequent landslides, cases of soil erosion and floods in various parts of the country are easily dismissed with the standard explanation: “owing to increased rainfall”. 

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Nation-building is not measured only by investments, material wealth and social value. 

To become a progressive nation, we must have the commitment, the desire and the will to manage changes in the environment, including climate change. 

Only when we overcome the recurring floods, especially in Kelantan and Terengganu, can we say confidently the government has been successful. 

The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

AGENDA RAKYAT - Lima perkara utama
  1. Tegakkan maruah serta kualiti kehidupan rakyat
  2. Galakkan pembangunan saksama, lestari serta tangani krisis alam sekitar
  3. Raikan kerencaman dan keterangkuman
  4. Selamatkan demokrasi dan angkatkan keluhuran undang-undang
  5. Lawan rasuah dan kronisme
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