Bukit Antarabangsa… Multiple tragedy
December 10, 2008 by drrafick http://www.rights2w rite.wordpress.com
Just a simple, ordinary kampong doctor - the 6th Generation Malaysian.
Today is D5 of the Bukit Antarabangsa tragedy. During the highland tower incident, I was part of the medical team assisting in the rescue and support effort but today I am a victim of a similar tragedy. Something that I never thought that would have an impact on me. Relatively in comparison, what happen to those families who loss their love ones is nothing compared to what me and probably 2000 other residents had to endure past 4 days. Many tragedies took place this time around. I am not going to be diplomatic about it. I will say it the way I see it.
Within 2 hour after being made aware of landslide, I and several resident of Taman Bukit Utama activated an Ops Centre (known as TBU Ops Centre). We look at importance issues that we need to tackle mainly water supply, waste disposal, security, food distribution and medical evacuation. What was supposed to be our Taman Ops centre became the Ops Centre to eight "Taman" surrounding ours who were cut off from the outside world. We had no electricity, water, fixed telephone line internet. Most people had limited food in their house as they had already plan to travel for Raya and did not stock up any food.
Within an hour after meeting, we setup and completed a temporary water supply by laying pipes to get mountain water for the resident. Ops centre was up in the next hour and we started communication channel with the outside channel via SMS and arranging food and drinking water supply. We took preventive measures to manage disease outbreak by managing waste. All this was done by a handful of people from Taman Bukit Utama Resident Association (PPTBU). We setup the helipad for the rescue team to come in.
With the help of a friend DSP Kumar, we manage to evacuate by air (Medivac) a total of 39 patients which consist of stroke patients, elderly people, kidney failure patients etc. The patients were evacuated by police air wing which was arranged by DSP Kumar from the UTK through his personal contacts. We did all this independently without the support of any help from the Base station at Ground zero.
Within the first 48 hours, while in darkness several homes was reported to be broken into by unknown people in residential areas adjacent to TBU where there was no or minimal residential coordination among the residents. Food was shortage and cooked food from PBSM (Persatuan Bulan Sabit Merah) did not arrive in timely manner. The longest time was dinner that only reaches us in the morning which was not consumable.
While we are stuck, we had VVIP visitors that come to our area. I would say out of many people that came only a handful was actually helpful. YB Elizabeth Wong, a state Exco came with a working group and arrange generators, fuel, candles, garbage bags and others. She came by foot with very few people and carried the relevant information without empty promises. The IGP came and given me his personal commitment and blessing that, I continue to handle all air evacuation with the support of Police Udara. I was told that the Minister of Information visited only the UMNO relief center at a Condo nearby. He did not come to our place.
The NGO that is worth mentioning is Mercy who gave me some drugs, INSAF who open a small medical clinic for 2 days and MAVFCL (Kapt Bala and his crew) which open a temporary access between Athenaeum condo and a generator set to charge hand phones and Bukit Utama which allows people to leave by foot. It is a regret to note that NO government agency deserves any mention in the first 36 hours of tragedy except for Polis Udara and Jabatan Kebajikan Masyarakat. I think they forgot about us.
While 2000 people were surviving in the darkness and the absence of proper food, Concord Hotel, Ali Maju restaurant, Burger King and many others donated tons of food. Unfortunately, no one attempted to send the food to us. Residents that were not affected by the tragedy and the rescue workers were enjoying them. The kind of food they get down there was lavish. There was fresh roti chanai, tosai mee goreng etc. The best word to describe the situation down there is "food fiesta". Someone commented that there is so much "Teh Tarik" that you can wash your shoes with it.
The landslide is a major tragedy. The bigger tragedy is that the failure of the government to act fast enough. While multiple agencies went into action fast, most of them work independently. On the 3rd day, we had 10 soldiers from RAMD with two officers with the rank of Major that came to our centre. I ask them a basic question on their role and the officers could not give me a straight answer. He was very blur. To me his presence was a liability to the ops center as we had to feed an additional 10 mouth with our limited stocks.
This is not the first time a tragedy takes place. The disaster relief operation was not well coordinated. The command and control was lacking. Information dissemination to the media was scattered and causes panic among the people. Many friends and relatives outside calls us and we could not entertain them, as our battery power was limited.
In terms of political publicity, I would say UMNO was a clear winner. This is because they control the media. Unfortunately, I would say that in the hearts of the people UMNO loss big time. The high-level conduct of their people on the ground and their selective helps that was given out was too much to bear. In fact, the Putri Umno head that I had known past few months was behaving in such a highhanded manner that really shows her true colours. They were hoarding food and distributing them to "their people". Their action has only reinforced my idea that the Federal and the State Government must be from different parties. This is needed for check and balance.
Malaysian must realize that for the sake of our own lives and our own children lives, we have to have balance of power. It was because of lack of balance of power; the water catchment area that is a state land was given to MBF and is now known as "Bukit Antarabangsa" . In my assessment, the government is liable. In this case, the government was led by BN in the state of Selangor and at National level past 50 odd years that is liable for the suffering of the people of Bukit Antarabangsa. They are liable because they alienated unsuitable land for development. They are liable for giving the people the false sense of security by approving development plans and projects. They are liable for hiding information from the people that shows that the area that we are buying is not safe for living.
I will only vote for balance of power in the future and UMNO will not be part of that balance.