The Kelantan floodgate: Part II — Isham Jalil

Source: NST Online

BY ISHAM JALIL

NST file pix -- A villager evacuating her home in Rantau Panjang early January 2017. In the two recent floods in Kelantan, hundreds of thousands of people were displaced and homes were destroyed. Bernama Photo, taken from NST Online.

NST file pix — A villager evacuating her home in Rantau Panjang early January 2017. In the two recent floods in Kelantan, hundreds of thousands of people were displaced and homes were destroyed. Bernama Photo, taken from NST Online.

THE Kelantan government is still in denial that logging and land-clearing activities have caused or worsened floods, even after the 2014 flood, which was the worst the country has ever seen in almost half a century.

The state authority reiterated that logging did not cause the floods but rain did, and that the floodwaters did not come from the logging areas, but from the national park. Unfortunately, pivoting the rhetoric isn’t going to solve the problem, nor does it relieve the suffering of Kelantan people affected by the floods each year.

Despite the denial, several experts from various fields, including meteorology, forestry and sustainable development, have highlighted overwhelming evidence linking land clearing and worsening floods in Kelantan — such as alluvial deposits as far as 1,000m from riverbanks seen post-flood, formation of acres of sandbars in Sungai Kelantan due to accelerated erosion upstream, and countless satellite images showing soil erosion from cleared forest.

The United Nations has stated that deforestation may be one of the principal causes of severe flooding. This is evidenced by the floods in Bangladesh in 1998, Haiti in 2004 and Mexico in 2007.

Experts say soil eroded from cleared land flows into adjacent rivers, causing siltation and shallowing of the riverbeds, hence, worsening the flood. Read more

The Kelantan floodgate: Part I — Isham Jalil

Source: NST Online

KOTA BHARU 28 MARCH 2016. ( FILE PIX 08 DECEMBER 2015 / KBE983C ) Kawasan pembalakan haram yang dirakam anggota penguatkuasa Jabatan Perhutanan Kelantan di Hutan Simpan Kekal Chiku, Gua Musang pada akhir tahun lepas. IHSAN JABATAN PERHUTANAN KELANTAN

KOTA BHARU 28 MARCH 2016. ( FILE PIX 08 DECEMBER 2015 / KBE983C ) Kawasan pembalakan haram yang dirakam anggota penguatkuasa Jabatan Perhutanan Kelantan di Hutan Simpan Kekal Chiku, Gua Musang pada akhir tahun lepas. IHSAN JABATAN PERHUTANAN KELANTAN

BY ISHAM JALIL

This is a story about the Kelantan flood; about how a natural disaster could have been mitigated by humans but wasn’t, and even worsened by them.

In 1990, Pas took over the Kelantan government from Barisan Nasional. Three years earlier, Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the then prime minister, had marginally defeated Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah in a bitter fight for the Umno president’s post. Tengku Razaleigh, still fresh with wounds from the fight, had his revenge in the 1990 general election when he and his newly formed party, Semangat 46, helped Pas defeat BN to win the state. Dr Mahathir had lost Kelantan to Pas and Tengku Razaleigh, and he was upset and angry.

Subsequently, throughout the 1990s under Dr Mahathir’s administration, the federal budget allocation to Kelantan was significantly cut. Between 1991 and 1995, under the 6th Malaysia Plan, less than one per cent of the RM116 billion federal development expenditure was allotted to Kelantan, the lowest allocation compared with all other states. This practice continued until 2003.

Consequently, there were very few development activities in Kelantan during the 1990s. Highways, roads and dams that were supposed to be built were cancelled. Economic growth was inhibited, and job availability was limited. As a result, there was a mass exodus of locals out of Kelantan during this period. Hundreds of thousands of Kelantan folk had to emigrate to find jobs. Currently, it is estimated that one in three of the 1.5 million Kelantan people live and work outside the state. If Dr Mahathir had intended to punish Pas and Tengku Razaleigh, the Kelantan people were collateral damage. Read more