What caused the 3 October floods in Penang?


Environmentalist Leong Yueh Wong weighs in with what he thinks are the possible causes of the flash floods in Penang on 3 October 2014.

The scene at Macalister Road
The scene at Macalister Road

But before that, here are some words of wisdom (author unknown):

Less absorption = MORE runoff
More concretisation = FASTER runoff

+ faster
+ high tides
+ exceptional rain
+ poor maintainence



Learn to swim,
buy a boat,
move upstairs/uphill

+ PRAY..

And now we have climate change to factor in.

This is an excerpt of a report from the Malaysian Insider:

Weary of arguments, ex-don tells Penang to study cause of floods


Published: 7 October 2014

Friday’s floods at several locations in Penang was caused by both climate change and over-development, said a former ecology, botany and environment lecturer, who called for proper research to find the actual cause of the incident which brought the island to a standstill.

The Penang government has pinned the blame for the floods on climate change while the opposition has said it is because of overdevelopment.

Datuk Dr Leong Yueh Kwong, who was formerly with Universiti Sains Malaysia, weighed in on the issue and said a combination of overdevelopment and climatic events had likely caused the floods and exaggerated the incidents.

He said development which resulted in the felling of natural vegetation and paving concrete over soil would naturally reduce the amount of rain water soaked into the ground.

Increased surface run-off would lead to urban floods, even though a drainage system could partly overcome the problem, he said, on the possible causes of the Friday floods.

“Development can be a reason. In Tanjung Bungah, hills are being cut for new projects, resulting in floods occurring in areas that never saw such incidents before.

“It is also possible that Penang experienced some spill-over effects from the typhoons in the South China Sea,” Leong, advisor to the Penang Malaysia Nature Society, told The Malaysian Insider.

State local government, traffic management and flood mitigation committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow had pinned the blame on climate change, while Penang Barisan Nasional chairman Teng Chang Yeow said it was because of overdevelopment.

Leong said it would help if research was done to determine whether development had caused the amount of surface runoff to increase and lead to floods.

“Until you have all the facts, you can go on arguing,” he said, adding that the authorities should monitor and look into the drainage system, catchment system, and building retention ponds to reduce the amount of water flowing into rivers during heavy downpours.

“We need to look into integrated development… but, up until now, we still do not have the local plan in place,” he said, referring to the Penang Island Local Plan that has been on hold since 2008.

Non-governmental organisations and environmentalists have alleged that the delay in enforcing the local plan, which will have clear guidelines and specifications for development, would allow developers the advantage of building their projects even at environmentally sensitive locations.

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People are seemingly experiencing ‘adverse’ environmental conditions more frequently because we have more people moving into previously unpopulated zones, and it is much easier to post reports now compared to even just 20yr ago. What we are experiencing now arent necessarily abnormal climatic conditions because human life span and memory is but a blink relative to geological time and environmental cycles tend towards hundreds and thousands of years, not to be confused by annual seasonal cycles. In any case, political will and engineering can be brought to bear and mitigate the negative impacts. There is way too much misinformation and… Read more »

Ong Eu Soon

Stop blame GOD for high tides, exception rain Stop blame MPPP for poor maintenance when it is too good maintenance that let the runoff moving too fast Learn to blame yourself when you only know how to let the runoff flow to the sea. You should realize that when there is high tides, the runoff will not be able to go to the sea. You should realized that when there is high tides, sea water flow into your deepened rivers or drains. You should realized how stupid you are after so many flash flood incidents and you never learn. Stop… Read more »

Ong Eu Soon

+ high tides
+ exceptional rain
+ too good maintenance (runoff flow more faster no obstruction- don’t blame the poor MPPP workers)
+ single outlet (only flow to the sea )



What we can do
– Control the selfish urge to throw rubbish around.
– Collect rain water from the roof, especially if addicted to washing cars/floors or watering grass/plants.
– Impede the outflow of water through contouring, separate tiles blocks, gravel or grass left/cut longer.
– Create disincentives for corruption, negligience and incompetence: (a) control the urge to rush into buying property in pooly designed areas (b) jointly sue for flood damages (c) report and then highlight drains left blocked.


Where is the data?
Bolehland(TM) keep all relevant data in secret and it is out of league from public scrutiny.,
Or perhaps Bolehland(TM) government purpose did that to prevent high school children see how SNAFU is our government using the math they just learn in school.


Water Retention Experiment: Go to a hair saloon & ask for a complete hair wash: rinse, shampoo + rinse. Which type of head will hold water & shampoo – Botak Head or a Headful of Hairs? Will the Niau Kong & MPPP go for a complete shampoo + wash to clean their heads of rubbish & nonsense to come to their senses for Greener & Cleaner & Safer Penang? Better still, go botak to experience the effects of flood in a greenless & slippery concretised land. Don’t have to wait another 40 years for another round of blaming the unprecedented… Read more »

j sinclair

DPM Muhyddin back from Mecca spotted with bald look to also remind Msian nature becoming total with logging and development ?


Too simplistic! Development is acceptable if there is proper management, planning &supervision by the authorities. An ideal drainage system & capacity large enough to move the rain runoff should be enough to deal with the overflow. Just look at Hongkong or Singapore.