I need a mountain spring: A poem


A poem by blog visitor, Khoo Soo Hay, who yearns for more natural, green surroundings, preceded by an 1848 warning of climate change by James Logan.

But first an update on the water level at the Penang dams in an extract from a statement by PBAPP chairman Lim Guan Eng:

Every year we ensure that the water levels in the dams are at the maximum level at beginning of January. In fact, the dry spell is not an unusual phenomenon as it is an annual occurrence and expects the dry weather to last until April when the inter-monsoon season starts.

The water level at the Air Itam Dam is at 71% capacity and sufficient for 70 days of supply, Mengkuang Dam is at 50.5% capacity and sufficient for 84 days of supply while Teluk Bahang Dam is at 91% capacity which is sufficient for 277 days of supply. There is no need for water rationing now.

Of the three (3) dams, only Air Itam Dam is dropping fast and PBAPP is doing all it can to maintain the reserve capacity to last for another 90 days by bringing in more water from Seberang Perai. However, it cautions the consumers to not waste water for washing cars and gardening or hosing of the house gardens. If no rain falls in the catchment area within 30 days, Air Itam Dam level will reach 40% capacity which will only last for another 43 days. At this critical stage, PBAPP will impose water rationing in the Penang Island to cater for the daily basic needs of the consumers.

Now check out this warning from 1848 of climate change in Penang by James Logan, published in the Journal of the Indian Archipelago and Eastern Asia, which he edited.

It was remarked that the whole of the eastern front of the range [of a mountain in Pinang] has within a few years been denuded of its forest…. In Singapore the present zealous Governor has, in an enlightened spirit … absolutely prohibited the further destruction of forests on the summits of hills…. Climate concerns the whole community and its protection from injury is one of the duties of Government….

It is not necessary to cite Humboldt or Boussingalt to prove the great influence in tropical regions of forests, and especially of mountain forests, in attracting and condensing clouds, diminishing local temperature, and increasing humidity. But if the forests had no other effect other than to protect the clay soil of the mountain from the action of the sun’s rays, this alone should be sufficient to ensure their careful preservation. It is in this soil that the waters which supply the streams of the island, and which percolate downward to the lower lands, are enclosed. In ordinary seasons, when there is a considerable fall of rain, the importance of preventing the contents of these reservoirs from being dissipated may not be so obvious. But it may now be considered as a well established fact that the eastern Archipelago is subject to periodical droughts, although the laws of their recurrence are not yet ascertained. That such droughts will again and again happen, and are in fact in the settled course of nature admits of no question….

Unless government will reserve at least the steeper mountain tracts, which are not adapted for permanent culture, there is nothing voluntary in the apprehension, for it has been realized in other localities, that in some prolonged drought after the naked sides of the hills have been exposed for a few weeks to the direct heat of the sun, every stream in the island will be dried up, and universal aridity ensue. The great extent to which the plain of the mainland of Pinang has been shorn of its forest would of itself produce an urgent necessity for a stop being at once put to a war with nature, which must entail severe calamaties on the future. In those mountains of Greece which have been deprived of their forests, the springs have disappeared. In other parts of the globe, the same consequence has followed. The sultry atmosphere and dreadful droughts of the Cape de Verde Islands are owing to the destruction of forests….


We are informed that the destruction of jungles on the mountains of Pinang has been allowed to proceed unchecked for the last 2 years. If any of the residents will bring it to the notice of the Governor we are sure from our knowledge of his opinions, with respect to the necessity of preserving hill jungle, that he will not only make an order on the subject, but what is essential, provide means for carrying it into effect.

And this is the poem by Khoo Soo Hay:

I need a mountain spring

I need to find a mountain spring
That man has never seen or touched,
That only deer come to drink
And birds and squirrels can vouch.

To have it bordered by plants
And small pools for peacock fish
To swim and play stunts
Reflecting its scaly rainbow flash.

And by its side monkey cups abound
Collecting dewy drops of rain
The agile monkeys’ life-line bond
That is part of the mountain terrain.

I need a mountain spring
Unspoiled by human hands,
Its pure water, unwashed, unringed,
Left to wash only its bottom sands.

I need a mountain refreshed
By the sweet songs of birds calling
For their mates to build their nest
Amidst butterflies fleeting.

I do not need artificial springs
That sound un-operatic
That infiltrate our private space, bring
To our ear, music chaotic.

I do not need a concrete jungle
Where hills and mountains vanish.
No trees and branches jangle,
But cement, plastic and steel finish.

Give me a mountain spring
Pure and unsullied to dream
Before the rising of the sun
And its lying down before the moon beam.

That is my last wish for myself,
And for others who love this earth,
That come what may, the shelf
Of life will continue to have hope and rebirth.

By Khoo Soo Hay

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Suffering in Malaysia’s richest state http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Nation/2014/02/26/Suffering-in-Malaysias-richest-state/ Imagine the suffering & inconveniences regardless of who you are in Selangor, we up north should be thankful for the time being of regular water supply. Unless one stays in Perak, Kelantan, Pahang or Johor where there are plentiful hills, rivers, waterfalls & forest reserves, Penang islanders should think now to prepare for worst case scenario in the near future: Rain water harvesting, economical use of tap water, re-channelling of river water at forest exit points to underground storages (under recreational fields or streets), reuse of treated waste water (IWK’s role) instead of flushing… Read more »


For capitalism, nature is another commodity or competitor. Unless it produces moolah, the enjoyment of nature is undermined or nature itself is eliminated. Most of the “CSR initiatives” disguise the intentions and devastation of corporate ogres.


There will come a time when majority of world populations are concentrated in urban/city areas which will create unprecedented demand for drinkable water. With less hills & catchment areas, the lopsided demand + supply may cause problems, political, economic & social. Corporations may jump on the bandwagon to supply recycle water from waste, sea & rain water but at charge at a hefty price tag. Water from being a cheap commodity may be used as a ‘pricy weapon’ at bargaining tables with whoever is on the disadvantage. One can eat less but without water it’s WAR between nations. For an… Read more »


To the Chinese, this is bad for the internal chi flow..

If you do it in moderation, its actually good for your health


Beers are good when I go offroading. After a whole day of ‘fighting’ obstacle driving (elephant mud holes, slippery uphills, winching from ‘one wheeling in longkang’) a can of beer after BBQ is heaven sent ‘body coolant’ & happiness stimulant. Do you know our rainforest rivers can cool cans of beer as cool as in a mini fridge? Do you know spring water hot or cold (emerging from jungle underground) is mineral rich, bacteria free & far, far better than hitech NEWater? And hot spring water can cook an egg? Do you know a fever can be subsided after a… Read more »

Khoo Soo Hay

The Carlsberg’s “Real Cool Dane” goes back 20 years. It was a great marketing gimmick, unfortunately they did not go further and promise the Carlsberg Chinese wholesalers, the girl, if they had scored the highest sales volume in the whole country. It would have emptied the factory of the liquid gold. Beer or no beer, there is nothing like pure spring water. There is one up in the Penang Youth Park hill. It needed to be unknown to keep it pure and serene. Yet there are still others among the hills in Penang Island. Agree with you that we must… Read more »


I loved (& still do) the slim & cool elusive Dane sauntering in golden beer backdrop with the singing tagline: “Come up to Carlsberg, c’mon join in”. That’s my favourite female fatale icon besides the 60s Eveready strip-dancing cat (better than Rosie Chan). During my 80s marathon training in Ayer Itam Dam, I frequently saw the Pg Hash House Harriers downing beers after their run. Is that to cool down their heated body? To the Chinese, this is bad for the internal chi flow. Penang’s hills still harbour (out of developers’ red eyes) many secret brooks with heavenly clear water… Read more »


tunglang appears STREESED out by concrete development. so enjoy this commercial dedicated to your past memory ..


Very disappointed. She Dane couldn’t finish it in one go.
Despite her suggestive gesture!
Maybe Tsingtao beer is a better size, pint for pint!!!


The rainforest is a wonderful place to relax or to live in. For the rat raced soul, it de-stresses & heals. For the troubled mind, it calms. For the tired mind + body, it rejuvenates & revitalises. For the down + desperate spirit, it enlightens & inspires. For the seeker of peace, it shares serenity. For the dehydrated trekker, it refreshes & recharges. And for the dulled, insipid or low in vitality, it serves Tongkat Ali. It should be call Man’s Ultimate Sanctuary (Avalon). Once, hiking up a trail off Ayer Itam Dam in the hot afternoon, I was attracted… Read more »


Carlsberg Danish damsel no more seen in cinema commercials ?

i cannot drink but nothing can stop me (Ridhuan T can keep his eyes closed in cinema) to appreciate the beauty sent from heaven !