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Release Bukit Antarabangsa report

Silence, some would contend, is golden. To others, silence is synonymous with consent. Whatever the case, the reticence about the risk assessment report on the tragic landslide that occurred on Dec 6 last year in Bukit Antarabangsa is unacceptable and an embarrassment to the government.

Five months have passed since that fateful day when the world of the victims came crashing down. Five lives were lost and many of the residents were displaced. For them, the pain continues. We, the lucky ones, cannot imagine the anguish and anxiety suffered by the victims of the landslide.

These days, when the skies turn dark and rain is imminent, most people are glad to just stay home, away from the traffic snarls and flash floods that are so common. But for those still living in Bukit Antarabangsa and the areas around it, yet another nightmare may happen.

Is the ground on which their homes stand stable? Can they close their eyes and have a peaceful night rest?

The only way to allay their fear and anxiety is through a steady flow of information and firm assurance and commitment from the government that everything possible is being done, quickly, to safeguard their lives and property.

This must be a priority task for our new Works Minister Datuk Shaziman Abu Mansor.  His predecessor, Datuk Seri Mohd  Zin Mohamed, failed to release the risk assessment report on the tragic incident although a promise was made that the report would be completed in three months. Naturally, the anguish of those affected has since turned to animosity against the government. Can you blame them?

If you recall, an irate Bukit Antarabangsa resident, retired major Dr Mohamed Rafie Khan Abdul Rahman, even gatecrashed one of Mohd Zin’s press conferences early this year to demand answers from the minister. Sad to say, Mohamed Rafie’s act of desperation did not go down well with Mohd Zin. Even sadder is the fact that the former’s courage has not yielded the desired results.

The hush-hush over the risk assessment report is perplexing. As always, the undesirable silence has given rise to speculation.

Word in the building fraternity is that the report was ready more than a month ago. If that is so, what’s keeping it from being released?

Are there liability issues involved? According to an earlier report, residents in the neighbourhood had alerted the local council of the appearance of cracks before the landslide. If this is true, was the failed slope on public land? Who then should be ultimately held responsible?

Accountability aside, what were the causes of the slope’s failure? Is the vicinity safe? What are the preventive or mitigative measures that need to be put in place to prevent landslides from recurring?
According to an engineer, when there’s a slope failure, the loose soil needs to be stabilised. In the longer term, the slope has to be rebuilt. While this is not difficult, the cost could run into millions of ringgit.

But what is financial cost compared to human lives? Do we need yet another tragedy before action is taken?

It is not quite enough for the government to say it will act in the interest of the people; it must be seen to be doing so. If it must, bite the bullet and make decisions that need to be made.

In the spirit of 1Malaysia, the government must come clean and do what is expected of it. Start by releasing the risk assessment report. The people have a right to know.

Au Foong Yee is editor of City & Country

 

This article appeared in City & Country, the property pullout of The Edge Malaysia, Issue 754, May 11 – 17, 2009.

 

 

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