Penang floods: Stop further hill and tree cutting and over development


The worst flood to hit Penang in recent years – and climate change means worse is yet to come. This statement by a couple of Penang NGOs:

Sahabat Alam Malaysia and the Consumers’ Association of Penang are alarmed by the massive flash floods that hit Penang both on the island and the mainland following intense downpours throughout the early morning of Friday, 15 September 2017.

Apart from many areas in Penang under water, we also received news of landslides and mudslides in several areas such as in Tanjung Bungah and Paya Terubong, where hill cutting is going on for more high-rise projects.

Clearly, despite previous incidences of floods and landslides in Penang following intense rains, we do not seem to have learned any lessons.

Heavy tropical storms are to be expected in Penang and in the country.

But what is most disconcerting however is that the state government, instead of taking preventive measures such as in protecting hill lands and planting more trees to prevent soil erosion and surface water run-off, is approving more hill-cutting and removal of trees along roads for all kinds of development projects.

All the flood mitigation measures will prove ineffective and inadequate if we do not address the root causes of flash-floods and landslides which stem from increased water run-off from removal of trees and hill-cutting.

The state government needs to halt this wrong kind of development and must genuinely be more environment friendly by taking measures to protect all hill lands, plant more trees and truly ensure sustainable development.

READ MORE:  Floods, landslide, partial road collapse after latest downpour in Penang

More extreme and intense rainfalls can be expected due to the impacts of climate change, not only in Malaysia but the world over, as exemplified by the massive recent floods in South Asia and even in the United States.

Many countries are taking adaptation measures seriously in light of climate change impacts but Penang and the rest of Malaysia are very far away from having proper adaptation plans to cope with more extreme rainfalls which will happen more frequently.

It is high time to learn from our mistakes, take corrective measures urgently and have proper adaptation plans in place.

SM Mohamed Idris is president of Sahabat Alam Malaysia and Consumers Association of Penang.

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  1. How to explain the flash flood in rural Kedah areas like Pokok Sena where there is hardly any concrete development?

  2. The Penang state government has refuted claims by Penang Federal Action Council chairman Datuk Seri Zainal Abidin Osman that the federal government had allocated RM2.6 billion for the flood mitigation projects in Penang.

    State Local Government ,Traffic Management and Flood Mitigation committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow said instead of that amount, only RM443 million had been spent.

    “From the information that I have, the original allocation that was applied by state Drainage and Irrigation Department (DID) has been amended and the actual sum spent was only RM443 million,” he said during a press conference at Komtar.

    Chow said after the amendment made by the federal government, it has allocated RM1.79 billion in three consecutive Malaysian Plans (RMK9, RMK10 and RMK11) for the state to spend on flood mitigation projects.

    He noted that, if the federal government had spent the full RM1.79 billion on the flood mitigation projects in Penang, the people in the state would have not faced the problem of flash floods.

  3. The Penang government today announced a one-off RM400 payment to building owners or families affected by last Friday’s massive flash floods.

    In making the announcement, Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng stressed that the payment was not a precedent, but a one-off payment following the ‘extraordinary downpour’ due to the Doksuri Typhoon.

    He said each family or building owner can only get the payment once.

  4. Penang flood water receded within a day and no more hot issue now, and Anil should to present Selangor katak jumping issue to remain relevant in fast changing social space.

    • Najib (allegedly) thought he could regain Selangor via ‘Perak Heist’ tactic with 8 PKR defecting assemblymen before GE14, but when he haul up the net he only caught only the irrelevant Mat Tyson! Anti-climax to all reporters out there.

      But it serves a warning to Harapan that PKR folks would likely jump to Umno for dedak if BN wins GE14 but fails to regain Selangor…

  5. With more flooding per annum, some of us are living a stressful existence – loss of belongings, danger to lives & loved ones, clean up of muddied & stinking homes, damage to vehicles, etc.

    Revealed: The world’s least stressful cities
    Note: The pursuit of a cosmopolitan city status has a price to pay & the ones having to pay most are those commoners left behind in this frenzied pursuit.

      • okay stop cutting hills but we keep cars and build more coal firing power station and increase co2 and global warming resulting in climate change. Climate change has a part, No more igloos and eskimos cannot walk from Alaksa to Russia.

      • Equal focus should be on the rampant burning of fossil fuel/carbon emissions as chief culprit of global warming, climate change, melting ice, rise in sea level leading to more typhoons and hurricanes causing high rainfall and flood.

        So please also complain about high car population as much as property development. Else the blog smells certain agenda just because of the love for cars, fast and furious or not.

    • Keep on the delusion Victor Liew. Keep on burying your head in the sand like ostrich. Already one person was drowned in this flood.

      • Who is buying his head in the sand? No wonder who is the outlier in the sand? Events can happen 1 in 1000 and not 100 years!

    • It is true we cannot evade big storms, and more will be coming. But we must be prepared and act fast.
      Foremost is to stop clearing the hills for development. The hills act like a huge sponge that absorbs rainwater and then slowly releases them. If we clear the hills, the water will run down fast on the surface. This is exactly what happened as you can see from the colour of the floodwaters. This is called surface run off.
      Just like when Anil, who is botak taking a shower, water will flow down quickly as compared to a person with lots of hair and long, he needs to use a hair dryer.

      • Many Dato Seri are sitting on board of developers, and it takes a conscientious one to make a change and you can be the one.

    • Its all part lf climate change.. this will happen more often. But local authorities hardly think of climate change in their planning and approvals that allow a building frenzy to take place.

      • You will need to build big humongous drain since the typical one month volume of rainfall hit Penang in one day! Is it practical since land is so limited? Underground smart tunnel?

      • Be prepared for worse to come with climate change, which we should factor in evaluating property development projects.

      • Already property supply outstripped demand for affordable housing, so what’s the logic of continuing the frenzy of building more on the hillsides but at unaffordable prices???
        All the more urgency to put a brake on this frenzy to reassess the harmful effects this frenzy will bring to the environment & ultimately the damages to homes & vehicles by floods.
        Are we to continue to say since not enough big drains, so cannot escape the floods, whether it is La Nina or El Nino. The cruz of the muddy problem is the massive run off of rainwater that cannot escape thro or be absorbed into the permeable forest + park soil that is now stripped off for bin-chui housing.

      • No matter how much they evaluate and fortify their properties, the land-grabbing high and mighty who appropropriate public lands (such as former government bungalows and pristine hill slopes) will be reduced to the same level of desperate need and terror as the rest of us. The approvals come from the same public officials who are so reluctant to implement urban and sub-urban structural plans. Ditto for KL.

      • engrs based rainfall data over last 30 years ago but when checked and published taking 3 to 5 years to do it, the 30 years data is out of date due to skewing of data. trying to see data 30 years or 50 years ago? even durian trees are affected

      • How to factor climate change? What code, by laws and standard to use? Why PF does not ask federal gomen to produce guidelines? PF wants pg gomen ie penang long to spend money and BN to use foc for whole country?

  6. Penang Forum should encourage people to take public transport or to walk more. Forget about concrete road expansions. Kick start education program to save the environment by driving less own private vehicles. Make the roads friendly and accessible to cyclists and pedestrians.

    Consumer Penang and Penang Forum pls hold hands to implement such programs.

    • Yesterday Oriental Daily provided a cost analysis of owning a car vs taking Uber/Grab over the lifespan of 7 year car (RM71.3K car, salvage value RM15k after 7 years) bought on hire purchase:

      Car ownership:
      Car cost + interest = RM8049/year
      Fuel/parking/toll = RM5892/year
      Road Tax/maintenance = RM2165/year
      Total cost = RM16,106/year

      Taking Uber/Grab:
      Assuming 5-day working week @RM27/day;
      Additional RM90/month travel;
      Total expenses = RM8140/year.

      Savings of RM55k in 7 years!

      • Car ownership a bin chui matter, so no matter how difficult financial situation for the sake of face value a must have item in life otherwise many consider themselves a “failure” not driving a car.
        So a better approach is for Penang Consumer or Forum to encourage driving smaller cars (1 000cc cars) to leave less green house carbon footprint effect on earth that can create havoc weather on island.

      • Singapore will be the first country in Asia to try out Finnish transportation app Whim – a service that shows users the best way to get from one point to another using public transport.

        The app aims to turn transport into a service on demand, the way Netflix has done for entertainment and Spotify for music. Different modes of transport, including buses, taxis and possibly even bicycles can be aggregated on the app.

        Users can pay a monthly subscription fee that covers payments for all rides on any mode of transport, or they can pay as they go.

    • Yup, it’s all about money to Lim Gone Eng and his so-called CAT gomen. In my humble opinion, more floods will happen in the future, this scary one will not be the last one (look at Setia Green million ringgit terrace houses, hehehe). So good luck to Penangites under CAT regime, you guys need it 🙂

      • Genesis 6:17

        And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die.

      • I’m not a Christian, so please don’t quote something from Bible to justify this flood. Already one person was drowned in this flood, her body was found yesterday. More havoc coming soon courtesy of over-development in Penang sanctioned by Kim Gone Eng’s CAT regime. Soon tourism industry will be destroyed as well since Georgetown is slowly losing its charm due to gentrification which slowly pushing out all old businesses in the town.

      • Many find solace in Biblical quotes, so pls do not offend our Christian bro n sis.

        Btw, I am not a Christian but certain religions do alleviate human sufferings.

      • God or Yahweh of the widely read Holy Bible (Book of God’s Words) had spoken of a Flood to illustrate His displeasure of men’s disobedience & the proliferation of the seeds of unclean spirits i.e. the Nephilim.
        Floods – these natural calamities have happened before & will still happen again.
        To warn us of our iniquities & to give us a grace periods to correct ourselves.
        God never flip-flop.

      • of course more intense flood will come wit people like you driving more cars, balak and exporting timber to Japan, or cut jungle and plant more palm oil and drive away utan

      • No worry. If PH wins, more smarter than kl smart tunnel in penang. Of course you only want not smart people in pg

      • Engr, can talk kecil mse and tiny brain but cannot think how much donation received and contribution to carbon footprints, flying here and there with all in the family? No wonder pg. flood.

    • You expect 3 gen to live under same roof? The son or grandson, wants to start a family. So they require a new house. If you no object to people getting a kapchai, why object to people getting a use?

  7. Whoever comes to power, there is always a repeat of the predecessor’s mistakes.
    We should table a new law in Parliament to allow citizens to SUE developers & state gomen for the flooding damages due to obvious reasons pointing to them. Then only will they learn the hard way of feverish development & irresponsible state governance.
    If nothing works, just throw back the mud & stinking flood water into the developers’ offices.

      • Developers should avoid the hills where the last bastions of rain water-absorbing soils should be left undisturbed.
        Developers should build more parks + retention ponds which also act as recreational centres, plant more trees to absorb the heat, dust & rainwater.
        Build condos with vertical garden designs on empty side walls which also absorb rain water.
        Build rain water harvesting structures as community projects.
        In total sum of measures such as these, we can see less of sudden rain water run-offs & resulting less flooding. And also less muds.

      • In 2015, Singapore PUB (Public Utilities Board) launches study on underground water reservoir and drainage system.

        The two-year study will look into the design of the system, which could include tunnels to transport excess stormwater to underground caverns for storage.

        During a storm, for example, tunnels could transport excess stormwater from drains, drop the water down deep vertical shafts and store it in underground caverns.

        A pumped storage hydro power system would harvest the energy of the stormwater in the tunnels as it makes the drop into the cavern. That stored energy can be reused when the water needs to be pumped out.

        Penang Forum can go Singapore for Lawatan sambil Belajar.

      • Best also sue God for the extra down pour? Or also sue God for dry climate or no rain resulting in forest fire or starvation? Aust to initiate as dry continent in this world.

    • If you can afford the legal fees and time, after a few years, you are likely to find based on what we have seen that you have no right in the matter (locus standii).

  8. Need to make this an election issue to warn DAP Penang. MCA must take the lead to salvage hope in the state election.

      • Najib is reported to have said that “the Chinese community would be targeted should Malaysia ever descend into chaos…If there is no peace in our country, what will happen? The Chinese will be the first to be targeted if there is no peace in this country.”

        MO1 was speaking at the MCA-organised Malaysian Chinese Patriotic Assembly at the PWTC yesterday.


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