An update from the Tanjung Bunga Residents Association:
On 11 November, the Tanjong Bunga Residents’ Association (TBRA) will be planting trees at the site of the fateful landslide, which cost the lives of 11 men, all except one, migrant workers.
“We have heard painfully little about plans to compensate the families in Bangladesh and Indonesia who lost sons, fathers, brothers as well as their source of income”, says Agnes James, deputy chair of TBRA.
Since the landslide happened in Tanjong Bungah, the residents want to commemorate the preventable deaths of these victims. Foreign workers, who build our houses, keep our streets and homes clean, are people, not just numbers, not dispensable statistics, now here and gone tomorrow.
The Star of 22 October listed 14 victims by name: one Malaysian, one Pakistani, one from Myanmar, two Indonesians, seven Bangladeshis and two others, Jamal and Rahman of “unknown” nationality. Eleven bodies were found. There were rumours that more workers were swept to their deaths by the sudden mud flow but no confirmation.
A week later, a picture in The Sun, showed Socso handing a cheque for funeral expenses to the Malaysian victim’s mother. It added his parents would receive a monthly pension of RM1,062 for the rest of their lives. The news, however, said nothing at all about the funerals of the foreign workers nor of any compensation for their families.
Companies do not need to pay Socso for foreign workers BUT under the Workmen’s Compensation Act of 1952, the employers must pay for repatriating the bodies and compensate the families for “accidental death at work”.
The developer, Taman Sri Bunga Sdn Bhd, has been given a week (by Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng) to reach agreements with the buyers who undoubtedly will be having second thoughts…
If only the workers [whoever they are employed by] could have had that luxury.
Our town wants to thank and remember them, wants to ensure their families far away are not forgotten and be given adequate information, recognition and compensation.
At the same time, TBRA is cooperating with the MBPP and the state government by planting trees to make Penang greener and better. The trees they are planting today may replace some of the many lost in the dreadful storm last Saturday night. Replace some of the many crushed by bulldozers that cut into the hills, flattening them for building sites.
The trees will absorb rainwater, hold the soil in place, give shade and help protect us from more floods and landslides.
Adopt a tree on 11 November, this Saturday!
An hour (maximum 2) of your time (9am)
Come and join us to commemorate the 11 victims of the landslide and at the same time make our town a bit greener.
The Penang state government intends to plant 10,000 trees on that day, 11 November, and TBRA will be helping to do its part. We have received 30 trees from MBPP.
The trees will be planted close to the landslide site as a way for Tanjong Bungah to remember the 11 workers who died in a sudden and awful (and unnecessary) way, right here in our own town.
The trees we received are both fairly tall (5 feet) and small saplings so there is something for everyone because we will need to dig holes to plant them.
We’ll collect as many tools as possible but if you have a garden hoe or a spade, please bring it. Also bring your own water. We don’t want to leave plastic bottles behind.
Time: We will start around 9am to 9.30am
Venue: Lembah Permai
Lorong Lembah 3, pass TAR College, keep going straight, just opposite the now closed construction site;
or, if you are coming from the other direction: past Tenby School and turn right at the T-junction.
We’ll be planting at the dead end of the road after the two Chinese temples. There will be a TBRA banner.