Being from Selangor, I am proud to note the urgency at which the state government and other agencies of the federal government responded to the Hulu Langat land slip tragedy that took the lives of 16 innocent people (mainly orphaned children) on Saturday. I am proud too that Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim decided to cut short his visit to the US to be at the site of the tragedy and to extend instant financial aid to the bereaved family members. I could not bear see the rows of coffins lined up for prayers at the Hulu Langat town mosque before being laid to rest at Dusun Nanding Muslim Cemetery; the site where my grandmother, uncles, aunties and many other family members lay buried.
I am proud too that the Penang state government had immediately pledged a RM25,000 aid to the aggrieved families. It is not the amount that really matters, but the thought by Penang CM Lim Eng Guan to provide financial assistance to fellow Malaysians in grief regardless of their ethnicity and religious belief. And I do not believe CM Lim Eng Guan did it neither of any personal interest nor political motives in mind; rather it was a sincere and genuine act of humbleness to assist. And wasn’t he the person to have sacrificed himself to a prison term merely to assist a young Malay girl who was alleged to have been rape by a Malay Chief Minister of a southern state several years ago?
And just listen at how a Malay lady minister named Shahrizat Jalil responded to the tragedy by saying that the orphanage was not registered by the Welfare Department; supposedly in her attempt to absolve blame. I am totally dumbfounded by her thoughtless statement that lacks sensitivity and care for the grieving families and to all those that labored tirelessly in the rescue effort. I do not know if she cared to visit the site of the tragedy, nor do I really care if she did. She had better not visit the site at all, for there is nothing left for her to do, and I don’t think she is welcomed by the residents there anyway. I know this because I am from the village.
A major tragedy like this could provide the best opportunity to galvanize everyone, regardless of their political affiliation, ethnicity and religious belief to come to aid fellow Malaysians in distress. Help and words of encouragement is what are needed; not statements that smacks of stupidity, just like those uttered by Shahrizat Jalil. And I do hope that the Hulu Langat district office does not come out with absurd statements that put blame on the orphanage for illegal construction and other irregularities; for a similar reason as that of the Malay lady minister.
An inquiry into the causes of the tragedy will have to be done by the relevant authorities. Let us hope that it is not blame that is sought by the inquiry, but measures to adopt in order to avoid a repeat of a similar tragedy from occurring in the future.
Finally, I am thankful that the Selangor state government has taken measures to freeze temporarily all hill slope development in the state, and hopefully to seriously look at the lessons of this Saturday’s tragedy with the view to developing better policies with regards to all future development along the base of hill slopes. Selangor has had enough tragedies involving the destruction of homes and loss of lives caused by land slips in the recent past.
CRUSADE AGAINST CORRUPTION