Friday, October 2, 2009


I visited Padang, Sumatra a few years ago, and later proceeded to Bukit Tinggi in search of my lost relatives whom I have never met, but knew of their existence. My late father had once said to me that my grandfather still has a number of his siblings left in Padang and the Bukit Tinggi region whose inhabitants are predominantly of the Minangkabau clan.

Upon my father's death, the only person to whom I could refer to with regards to my ancestry is my uncle who died several years after my father's death. He did say to me that my grandfather still has a 'Rumah Gadang', literally meaning a 'Grand House' or in our sense, a large family home at a place called Simaung. I never got to Simaung because the people whom I had enquired in Bukit Tinggi knew off the place, but they needed me to be more specific for them to identify exactly where the 'Rumah Gadang' is located. I don't even have the names of my grandfather's siblings and that made the search even more complex.

The news that Padang was struck by a massive earthquake a few days ago, once again reminds me of my lost relatives. And sure enough, I received a call from my brother last night to say that the entire home of a relative of my mother in Padang, who had come to visit her a few years ago, has been badly affected by the earthquake. We do not know if anyone were injured or had lost their lives in the rubble, because the news had been told by some relatives residing in Malaysia, and there is no means that my brother can talk to them.

We Malaysian are indeed a fortunate lot and the only natural calamity hitting us are the floods, landslides and the occasional thunderstorms. There has never been a tornado, an earthquake or a direct impact of the tsunami on a scale that lashed out at Acheh and some coastal areas of Thailand. What we got was only a 'residue' of an earthquake and the tsunami, and that had caused considerable confusion among Malaysians.

A friend of mine who has performed volunteer work in a number of natural disasters and calamities in this country has once said to me that our country deserves a better, more organised and dedicated volunteer force to meet future natural calamities. He claims that the existing government organisations established to handle national disaster situation is haphazard, lacking control and coordination, and appears to be having too many bosses giving too many instructions, and with too little hands to execute the instructions.

It seems that there is an obvious lack of a dedicated central coordinating body to actually monitor, report and make spot decisions and to response quickly to the immediate needs of those affected by the calamity. At the end of the day, each volunteer organisation is left to act on their own, and this results in a disproportionate relief effort that falls short of meeting actual needs. As an example, a place that requires food staffs is handed with too many clothing materials, and where medical support is urgently needed, there is only first aid kit available.

To add to the confusion, political parties with their party flags and posters get into the 'fray', and claims that the support and assistance they provide is in the name of their party. We saw such a thing happened during the Bukit Antarabangsa landslide disaster early this year. It has now become political where the actual needs of those affected people are not properly addressed. It is a kind of an election and popularity gimmick.

Clearly, there is some serious rethinking needed to address the failures so obvious during a disaster relief operations. I suppose there is already an existing national body responsible for national relief operations, but what need to be tightened up is the coordination of responsibilities, method of response, command and control of operations, liaison and possibly a planned prepositioning of support equipments and various immediate logistical needs in identifiable disaster prone areas.

The only way to address the above failures is to conduct periodical exercises and training, both at the state and national levels incorporating all government agencies involved, and including volunteer organisations and NGO's. This can be a costly and difficult affair, but it is only through such exercises and training that can assure success during the conduct of a disaster relief operations.

Disasters knows no limits and does not recognised a friend or a foe. It just destroys everything along its path, and if we are not ready with measures to defend and protect our lives and properties, then it is only us to blame; not the Creator, as some have said and claim it to be.



komando said...

We have a wait and see attitude! So, everybody says we are all not affected, wont happen, will never occur....and so forth...

Wait till it happens!

Already buildings are having serious cracks around Kl and Ipoh..

Wait till it crumbles....we don't need to build or consider earthquake safe it cost too much to built!

Let them crumble. We can built new ones...more money to be made, new contracts....

The TWIN towers can be replaced by a Triple Tower....!

nxforget said...

Salam Dato'

First, I have to admit that I've never been in any search or rescue operations. If can be considered one, the "gotong-royong" is the closest I've been. Even so, there are tims where things were chaotic.

Judging from the news, we are very far behind in these areas. Look at the tsumami that hit Aceh, the Singaporean SAR and US Navy are ready to move in while waiting clearance from the host country. Similarly, the Canadians are ready to move in to assist when Myanmar was hit by was hit typhoon.

Politics aside, but those countries have the system or mechanism in place although it's not of their own.

But in our country, we have fail to provide relief in-time. The recent example are the landslide in Bt Antarabangsa and the massive flood in major parts of Johor.

Of course, we have the many ministries and departments including NGOs to undertake the relief efforts. The problem is the coordination.

I think our army can do a better job in this area. They have all the ready manpower and applicable skills to handle the situation effectively while letting other ministries and department provide the secondary support.

While our country is with democratic parliamentary system and not ruled by the military, I think savings lives during disasters and calamities is much of importance.

Now, let us see which "PAT" and politicians can bring this further or just like "komando" said it's "wait and see attitude"

FMZam said...

Helo kawan,

Sapa kata kita tak kompeten. Itu kita ada SMART dan kita ada MERCY yang selalu saja bersedia untuk menghulur bantuan ke mana-mana tempat dalam dunia ni yang dilanda bencana alam. Dan kita juga ada St John, Bulan Sabit Merah lama sebelum kita ada SMART dan MERCY. Tak cukup ka? Dan kita ada banyak ambulans diatas jalanraya kita yang hari-hari melaungkan siren hampir setiap minit dicelah-celah jalan raya kita yang hari-hari sesak. Tak cukup juga ka?

Kita punya Bomba pun ada SAR sendiri sampai kadang-kadang kereta SAR Bomba walau tak ada kecemasan pun dipandu laju macam pelesit oleh pemandu-pemandu F1 Bomba. Tak cukup juga?

Kita juga ada tim penyelamat dari Kor Jurutera Diraja Tentera Darat yang menyumbang khidmat dalam kejadian di Bukit Antarabangsa dulu ingat tak? Yang sekarang diura-ura pula oleh PTD untuk dibubarkan Rej 91 Jurutera itu entah kenapa tak tau lah apa sebabnya?

Apa yang kita tak ada dalam menangani bencana alam, rasanya kita MACAM-MACAM ADA, dari organisasi awam sampailah ke tentera, tak kurang lah kita dari mana-mana negara lain dalam hal bantuan bencana alam ni rasanya kita mampu buat dengan daya kita sendiri tanpa pertolongan dari negara luar.

CUMA....kita mungkin belum teruji sebagaimana negara-negara lain teruji dengan bencana alam yang benar-benar dasyat, walaupun "fault line" bumi berada hanya disebelah kita. Kita selamat kerana kita ada Sumatra dan Pulau Jawa di selatan kita yang akan kena dulu, dan dilindung oleh Pulau Borneo dan pulau Celebes di timur kita, jadi kita di tengah-tengah maka kita masih selamat. kita selamat kerana ORANG LAIN KENA DULU, kita tunggu sajalah time kita bila Sumatra, Jawa, Borneo dan Celebes dah tenggelam nbanti barulah kita akan tau nasib kita pulak macamana.

Disekeliling kita ni sebenarnya adalah 'super volcano' yang berada atas 'fault line' dan semua tanah yang kita duduki makin bertambah berat dengan berbagai bangunan dan pertambahan manusia. Jadi sekarang ni sikit demi sikit bumi dah tunjukkan tak boleh tahan nak tampung berat dosa manusia maka bumi punya tectonic plate "terbergeraklah" sikit demi sikit bergantung kepada berat dosa manusia itu sendiri. Kalau manusia tak mau sedar dan masih nak menjahanamkan bumi, maka bumi pun tak kan tahan dengan angkara manusia dan akan menyembah bumi ke dasar lautan.

Tuhan tak bagi amaran kepada rakyat Sumatra tapi Tuhan menghukum rakyat Sumatra untuk bagi amaran kepada Malaysia. Sekarang ni gempa bumi di Sumatra sudah merekod sekil hampir 8 Ritcher itu memang cukup kuat dan saintis pun dah anggarkan akan berlaku banyak lagi gempa bumi di Sumatra dan nampaknya Sumatra dah tak akan stabil lagi. Bila lagi sekali gempa kuat melanda Sumatra, mungkin kali ini Sumatra akan tenggelam dan bila tenggelam akan mengakibatkan gelombang Tsunami terus datang melanda Malaysia sebab dah tak ada apa lagi yang akan menahan Tsunami itu dari menghentam Malaysia.

Jadi ingatlah kalau Sumatra tenggelam, Malaysia pun akan tenggelam!