How earthquake-proof are our highrise buildings?


The 19 deaths in Sabah were the first fatalities from a quake in Malaysia in living memory. We mourn the loss of lives and commend the courageous rescuers who worked tirelessly to reach the climbers.

The fatalities should serve us a wake-up call in terms of our preparedness and the precautions we should take to minimise casualties from future quakes, not only in Sabah but across the country.

The first thing we need to do is to review to what extent our buildings can withstand a strong quake – especially in urban centres such as the Klang Valley and Penang, where 50-storey buildings are unfortunately now becoming the norm in the absence of a Local Plan.

We cannot now say we will be spared from such quakes. How prepared are our rescue teams, hospitals and relief provisions for a larger emergency that may occur in more densely populated areas?

This is an excerpt from a statement by Penampang MP Darell Leiking:

I extend my deepest condolences and sympathies to family of those who died and also our prayers to those who remains missing. May the Good Lord guide those who are tasked to search and rescue them.

A new policy and law should now be drawn especially in wake of the new natural tragedy that Sabah has faced and will likely face again. New alert system (earthquake detection), building laws, constructions laws (to adopt earthquake eventualities) and even environmental mitigation laws/policy should be drawn up quickly so that Sabah can mitigate any eventualities that Mother Nature may act upon without warning someday again.

For us at Penampang, many I met yesterday and today had differing experience on what happened yesterday but one common stance was Sabah will never be again the same. We are now susceptible to an earthquake tragedy and many natural disasters that had given Sabahans a huge wakeup call to care more for each-other, to watch over each other and most of all to do our bit in demanding new laws as aforesaid including even hill cutting policies, uncontrolled development and reclamations and of course even to do our bit to save the environment.

While we cannot wholly prevent in whole mother nature’s reaction, we can surely do our bit to mitigate and lessen all possibilities of tragedy that can devastate us in the future. God Save Sabah.

This is from a report in the Economic Times:

However, research into the extent of damage soon revealed that the gradual strengthening of Japan’s building codes — in 1950, 1971 and 1981 — had made a big difference. Of the pre-1970 buildings in Kobe, 55% collapsed, or were irreparably damaged.

The proportion came down to 30% for structures built between 1970 and 1975, and to 10% for those built between 1976 and 1980. It was zero — that’s right, zero — for structures built after 1980.

That is proof positive that it is entirely possible to build safely in earthquake-prone areas. This does not mean that high standards will prevent all damage or deaths — some tragedies will always occur. But natural disasters once regarded as unavoidable, or even as God’s wrath, can now be checked by intelligent human intervention.

We can’t say we haven’t been warned.


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Universiti Malaya Geology Department Associate Professor Mustaffa Kamal Shuib that an earthquake may also hit KL as the federal capital is located near the epicentres of ancient fault line zones. These fault lines seem to have been reactivated by active tectonic plate boundaries.

gk ong

Not sure if the authority dare to take stiff action against those foreign nudists who expose themselves at Mt Kinabalu and even redicule local custom, the same way those local nudists at Penang beach are punished?

Stylo Logan

Sarong should be provided by the BN authority, just like what JPJ had done, for tourists to adhere to JAKIM dress code?


High cost of livings and government civilians can cope better by being entrepreneurs selling e.g. JPJ batik sarongs to tourists?


Sometimes I see Malay ladies tutup aurat, but the attire is so tight to show body shape that ulamas will also complain.


Its has been clarified by the Transport Minister and JPJ that the action is not being done by JPJ but by one ignorant guard. what happen in Selangor in recent times is an eye opener when the State govt action such as JAIS has resulted in their disease being passed on to others.

Edward Chuah

No building can be 99% quake resistan . Not even the best engineer can do that unless the bldg is totally hinged at all joints n comprise 99% floatingly-movable in-fill panels with a lot of expansion joints. U would be staying in a bkdg that would even sway with the wind?!? Steel framed-hinged structure is one way. Widely used in Japan. Solid steel reinforced concrete structure is harder unless whole solid block is designed strong enough to withstand 8.0 Richter Scale. The cost is high. A bomb shelter of sorts. Sitting on raft or floating foundation. The whole thing moves… Read more »


After new political earthquake, bolehland landscape in peninsular may be UMNO + PAS Ulamak + MCA, and PKR + PasMa + DAP while Gerakan + MIC + PPP dissolve to become NGOs.

JIBBIE tomorrow to visit East Malaysia to gather sleep well support.

GE14 snap election in horizon with potential outcome revamped BN blackout or not stay in power despite less than 50% popular vote.

This is a scenario to think and think and think not LIL my friends.

Phua Kai Lit

Our 1PM is truly incredible.
No visit to console Sabah earthquake victims even !

What kind of national leader do we have ?
1MDB and the relentless doc snapping at his heels has
fogged up his mind ?


Hé need to seek solace in Holy Land after all the troublés hé brought to himself?


Diplomacy in Saudi Arabia which are planned well ahead. Anyway he got his
Deputy who is doing well while he monitor from there. Aren’t you guys trying to ketechut again. No way they all loyal and support him fully

eng hock

eartquake-proof feature can be the factor for lifestyle condo developer to increase the per square feet prce and the hence the profit margin ?


Naturally. Earthquake proofing a building is very expensive and should be profit-neutral. This wake-up call for Malaysia should encourage a review of the building code of all buildings, no matter the height, and new code compliance laws put in place that meet stringent earthquake damage mitigation. It is cheaper to build within the constraints of a strong earthquake code compliant law than it is to retrofit already established buildings that do not meet new earthquake code laws. Zones need to be established based on recorded seismic data and fault-line mapping over a period of time to establish a baseline for… Read more »


Our high rise buildings are not built earthquake proof. Even then there is no such thing as earth quake proof if its 7 on the ritcher scale right in the middle or near of your areas. This is the first time Sabah has experience such an earthquake. The plate of the earth crust run from Andaman, Sumatra right down to Java and up to Celebes, Philippines and nortward to Japan. Sabah, Penang and Malaya is just on the inside of that ring. With the change of weather or other air and sea environment factor could that plate be moving closer.… Read more »

eng hock

SP Kee this time agrees with Yang about moving over to mainland as Malaysia may not be earthquake-free anymore.
To be safe, cannot encourage skinny-dipping in Penang waters or national park, so as not to offend the real Tokong to punish with natural disaster (touch wood).


As far as I know the mainland is still part of Malaysia and may be no less prone to earthquakes as Pulau Pinang.


Unless you live in a shipping (steel) container, any house – landed bungalow, condo or even attar house can be destroyed by an earthquake. So what’s the safety difference between staying in Pg island & mainland? The Sabah earthquake has shown Nature is angry. More likely than not for these disrespectful nudist act of sacrilege (peeing, showing one’s nakedness) at a sacred site (of Sabahans), it does not matter that Sabah is not frenzied-developed like in KL, JB & Pg. The cruz of it is we don’t care & this is karma hitting back. Sorry for the innocent victims of… Read more »


I do not think there is any relationship between ‘changes in weather and sea environment and the geological process of tectonic plate movement.