Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Flood - Government Calamity Dedicated Radio Needed Now....

Being affected by the flooding in Pahang, one of the things lacking was the availability of INFORMATION - this could have been provided by the government by having a dedicated radio channel during floods.

What kind of information should be provided?

* Information about roads that are about to be cut off by the floods, or are only accessible to light or heavy vehicles. We need to know this information, and if cut off, whether there are alternative roads that could be utilized. We would need specifics, i.e. which kilometer, where (including also on the normal roads and even in towns affected). I was traveling back from Muadzam Shah back to my home in Temerloh on 27th, and it would have been so much help to know which roads were accessible and which were not, and what were my options to get back home.

* Flood victims also need to know what is the flood condition in their area - which roads were cut off or about to be cut off, and where are the flood relief centres that they can go to for assistance.

* We also need to know whether water is rising or subsiding. Weather forecasts - rains, etc...that is specific to districts - not States especially for the large states like Pahang.

Now, in my area during the flood, there was no electricity, and there was no access to Astro or even the internet for almost seven(7) days. Hence, the only way one could get information was through the radio - but alas, in modern Malaysia, many would not have access to battery operated radios - but many do. Without electricity, mobile phones and even smart phones die and there is no way to re-charge it. Hence, more important than TV, during floods and such calamities, radio is the means to access information - that is why RTM should have had a dedicated FM Radio channel providing these necessary information. 

What we need is specifics - not general information which was alright for the rest of Malaysians unaffected by the floods. We do not need to be listening to the 'good things' that politicians and political parties are doing - this is certainly not the time for politicking - that can come later.

It would also be a good practice to provide people still affected by floods with radios and batteries. Good also to provide means of charging phones/smartphones. 

Now, many people affected by floods will not leave their homes and go to flood relief centers. Those who live in double storey homes, will just move to the upper floors and some to just to community centres and neighbours home not affected by the flood. 

WHY? It is not uncommon for 'bad elements' to commit theft during floods and calamities. Even as we stayed on the upper floor with about 12 other affected neighbours, one night there was an attempt to steal motorbikes - the thieves came with a truck to cart off these bikes. Fortunately, someone heard some sound - and the people rushed out through about 3 feet of water and managed to stop the thieves. This is why in many flood affected homes, people stay on or nearby to look after their homes and belongings - not so much to protect it just from the floods - but also from thieves. Police - what police - we never saw the police come around to our flooded village. In fact, nearby there was break-ins at the petrol station, 7-11 and many shops. One wonders where the police and the security forces were? 

In fact, even when we travelled back from Muadzam Shah to Temerloh on 27th using the old road, and having to pass at least 4 areas where the flood waters were on the roads, I saw no police, RELA, army or any other government officials - Signs that there was flooding ahead also was absent. Information was not there - and the radio was not providing much help - brief snippets of hourly news provided general information only... {At one passing where the flood waters had covered the road, and the water was swift, what we saw was ordinary good people standing on and beside the road to prevent any possibility of cars being swept away...]

We have floods in Malaysia annually, although not as bad as this one - and certainly this government should have been better coordinated and effective.

There is still flooding - and all the information required is available - all that the government, maybe vide the Minister of Communication and Multimedia, need to do is to get a dedicated radio channel going that will be churning out relevant information about the floods 24 hours - no need for songs, expression of support or 'how great this politician or pollitical party or NGO is' kind of information - just relevant detailed facts and information that is required by victims and pottential victims in affected areas. Just keep repeating the broadcast over and over ... State by State - District by District - Town by Town... It is an emergency channel. 

Remember that it is not just the victims that need this - but also the concerned family and friends all over Malaysia....     

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