In the last quarter of the year, Penang appears to have seen it all — a landslide that claimed 11 lives, a fatal bus crash that killed eight and a major flood which killed seven and paralysed 80 per cent of the state.
Those affected have to pick up the pieces and start anew. This is where the state government comes in. Instead, we are seeing the state government’s continuous defensive stance and constant blame game.
Take, for example, last month’s landslide at a project site in Tanjung Bungah. The state government was quick to point to a “construction site accident”, with a DAP lawmaker claiming the site was flat.
But, photos have emerged which claimed otherwise. The project involved slopes with a gradient of about 20 degrees. What is even more baffling is that the project went ahead without the Department of Environment’s approval.
And, what about the floods on Nov 4 and 5? Until today, thousands are still affected, yet, the state government continues to blame the Federal Government for a lack of assistance.
For the record, immediately after the disaster, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had directed the armed forces to help out in relief efforts. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, during a visit, had directed Kelab Putera 1Malaysia to send aid.
Different ministries have also gone to the ground to assess damage and announced millions of ringgit in allocation. So, what is your beef, Penang government?
To be fair, the state government has provided RM700 in financial aid to each affected household and business. That’s laudable, but more should and can be done.
The people are no longer buying the state’s defensive stand. They are not convinced by the promise of an allocation for flood mitigation as proposed in the state budget recently. Some quarters have said it was a repeat of this year’s figure. They are demanding for a real solution. The people are also doubtful of the state’s environmental efforts, with a measly RM10 million for hill protection.
Is this the “Ubah” (change) that Pakatan promised in 2008?
Audrey Dermawan is NST’s Penang bureau chief.