We recently came back from a cruise to Phuket and Krabi. Being on the sea far beyond any available mobile data network and with expensive wi-fi (not in our rooms, only in public areas), we were unaware of the worst flood plaguing the East Coast (and also some other states in north and south of the peninsular) affecting some 100,000 people.
My social media accounts’ timeline is full of my holiday pictures and other people’s year-end vacations in London, Paris, Japan, Bali and Maldives.
I myself am shamed to admit that I have been preoccupied with sharing holiday pictures, getting the right hashtags on Instagram to increase my likes, and updating travel articles on my blog so I could post one on the cruise.
In the meantime, tens of thousands of people are currently sitting in relief centres including my own distant family. Thousands of people remain trapped on roofs, top floors of schools and hilltops. They have not had food or water since the beginning of the week.
The PM is busy golfing with the leader of the free world. The Deputy PM is doing the rounds of relief centres on dry land. The helicopters are throwing down aid packages and food to the victims, unable to find any landing spots. The boats are going round but apparently there are not enough of them, or they don’t have the petrol, or the water current is too strong. Donation drives are aplenty but there are not enough means to access the victims.
This is an annual event, this monsoon floods. How have we not learnt to develop a system by now? Where is our crisis management, proactive flood mitigation strategies and aid systems? Why not plan in advance all the relief centres, the boats, the helicopters, the workers and the dry food? Why don’t we have a system in place, at least to organise and scale up when needed?
This is beginning to sound like Malaysia’s Katrina. And whatever we’re doing, it appears like we’re not doing enough.