USM, do something about your pond!


The ‘apex university’ has done it again. An overflowing retention pond at USM has flooded neighbouring properties, causing considerable damage and knocking out power, after a heavy downpour that lasted only a couple of hours.

The flooded basement of an apartment complex near USM - Photo credit: The Star

Jalan Sungai Dua - Photo credit: The Star
The flooded basement of the apartment complex along Jalan Sungai Dua

The flooding of a row of shops and the basement of the nearby Sri Saujana apartment complex (developed by Lion Properties in the early 1990s) during the downpour was due to the overflowing pond at the USM campus, the residents’ management committee chairman Robert Oon said today.

The complex near USM suffered tens of thousands of ringgit worth of damages – not for the first time. The outdoor basement car park, the power generation room and back-up generator, lift, swimming pool and squash courts were submerged. TNB personnel arrived, checked and said the problem was not at their end; the damage was in the electrical installation for the entire complex located in the apartment basement. It’s not going to be easy to restore power.

USM can’t say they were previously unaware of the problem. Just a few months ago, Robert had written to the DID and USM about the retention pond, telling them of the complex’s previous experiences with floods, which resulted in tens of thousands of ringgit worth of damages for the residents.

The DID then sent an officer to inspect the premises and later wrote to Robert, agreeing that the source of the problem was the USM retention pond. But the DID pinned the blame on surrounding drains outside DID jurisdiction (including inside the apartment complex), which it said were not large enough to cope. The residents wrote back to the DID, asking them not to wash their hands of the problem and to propose a solution instead of passing the buck. No reply. (Meanwhile, State Agriculture, Rural Development and Flood Mitigation Committee chairman Law Choo Kiang reportedly said yesterday the DID would investigate the cause of the flooding. What, again?)

The apex university, for its part, failed to reply. This is not the first time that the overflowing USM retention pond has resulted in major damage to the apartment complex, and this was not the first time the residents had complained. Similar floods occurred in 1997 and on several other occasions including last year. But today’s was among the worst.

When contacted tonight, Sim Tze Tzin, the Bayan Baru MP who visited the area this evening, said three factors contributed to the flooding along Jalan Sungai Dua: the heavy downpour, the breaching of the USM retention pond and a culvert (which apparently comes under JKR jurisdiction) that is not big enough for the drain crossing under Jalan Sungai Dua from USM.

USM’s public relations section, meanwhile, sent an sms to Sim, part of which read: “Anyway, USM authority really concern and prihatin terhadap apa jua isu setempat. Namun ia perlu diteliti dgn mdalam krn ia juga melibatkan pelbagai pihak lain yg perlu diselaras, apatah lagi setelah lebih 40 tahun, tdpt juga byk perubahan sekitarnya terutamanya pembangunan yg pesat berlaku di dlm dan di luar kampus USM. USM akan terus mencari jln mengatasinya sebaik mungkin. Menuding jari bukan jln terbaik utk menyelesai masalah. TK”

Typical public relations talk, but the buck has to stop somewhere. Enough of “teliti dgn mendalam”; USM must work together with the DID, the MPPP and the JKR to resolve the problem and tell their neighbours exactly what they plan to do. The long-suffering neighbouring residents have put up with enough.

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We may have ‘Apex’ universities but the problem of continuous brain drain is still persisting in Malaysia. What’s the root cause?

“Some of the problems include ethnic and neo-liberal policies that favour big business, a low-cost labour pool, a poor work culture among the Malaysian workforce, the mismatch of supply from the education institutions and the needs of the market, and the gulf in power relations between the management and employees in the private sector.”


We cannot solve both the brain drain and water drain problems?

Ong Eu Soon

The solution is very simple. Only allow the runoff to go down vertically, not moving horizontally. By doing so, you eliminate the need of lokang. If before development the areas has no flood then it has the capacity to absorb the runoff without trouble. If you has no idea how to do so, just go to to see the storm water management products and learn from the animated product guides. You can buy off the shelf products to mitigate flood. No huge budget is needed. If LGe is ever smart, he should invite Contech to invest in Penang. Contech… Read more »

Ong Eu Soon

Low impact development is a development that is invisible to the vicinity, low cost, no impact to the environment. USM has a strange dictionary that give low impact development a different interpretation. Some one should volunteer to teach USM English for free, may be great Anil should offer his service to USM.

Ong Eu Soon

This pond is the central of a flood mitigation project by USM, instead of mitigating flood, it caused flooding. USM until today still cannot understand why the project go wrong. They probably will blame the white men for misleading them on low impact development. Or even worst GOD is to be blame for the untimely century downpour. What a joke!

Ong Eu Soon

When Dr M heard about low impact development, he recruited a group of foreign experts to draft a low impact development manual which is called Manual Saliran Mesra Alam. But the basic tenet of low impact development go against Mahathrism. Instead of develop a low or no impact flood mitigation project, Dr M opted to build the world most costly, largest, longest and biggest lokang, the SMART tunnel, which channel rain water to a big and huge pond. This strange and stupid interpretation of low impact development is born out of USM. A big insult to the intelligence and the… Read more »

Ong Eu Soon

The pond is built out of the study on how to implement Manual Saliran Mesra Alam (MSMA). USM has an incredible interpretation of MSMA. The concept of holding rain water with a pond before flashing it down to drain defeat he concept of low impact developmen and go against the basic tenet of MSMA. How on earth USM can come out with such an incredible interpretation is somewhat puzzling to me.This stupid interpretation is consider as the bible for interpreting MSMA by DID. Only in Bolehland, when a no brainer misinterpreted an environmental friendly approach towards development, there is no… Read more »


Good work on the modelling study, Sherlock – but I didn’t understand the time axis used on the graphs – it’s up to about 24 hours where the tables have time-scales under 1 hour. Also the model didn’t seem to include the outflow. It seemed to assume that the entire flood event would be stored in the pond, but that would only need to happen if the outflow were blocked and would render the pond useless for the next event. Is it too late for it to be assigned as a FYP at USM?


Apex Universiti can develop a method to ‘recycle’ the flood water for use by its hostel students.


They could add more salt (and caffeine, a diuretic, to stimulate student kidneys) to the students’ meals, hence increasing their thirst for the campus’ new filtered drinking water. Locking all toilets on campus would then oblige the students to urinate elsewhere, thereby removing water from the campus.


Haha. Some people think water recycling or rain water harvesting are ‘cheap’ and ‘easy’ to be implemented…



Any explanation for the distinct differences in the overseas expenditure between Pakatan Penang and Gerakan Penang administration, as reported in The Sun last week:

Pakatan: RM427,000 (2008), RM449,005 (2009), RM559,767 (2010)
Gerakan: RM1.2 million (2006), RM884,000 (2007).

Is traveling on Air Asia lowers the cost?


probably previous government travel in big entourage…. they not visit disneyland but paid heavy luggage taxes after doing some massive shopping abroad(?)
anil should have more info but chose to be silent on this ?


Can’t even manage a pond & a drain, how to manage radioactive waste in Gebeng??

Apex Malu

CM? where are you?

All the people who suffer losses! Get together and sue!

Han Chiang Rockers

Success of BN’s Education system producing obeying citizens not dare to challenge (sue in court, know basic rights) for fear of #####.
Also education that preaches us to “Mudah Lupa” many scandals of the past to tolerate more scandals ahead.
Betul betul apanama orang kata dilema penduduk malaysia.


Apex University what? They are not answerable to any one.I think the residents shd get a good lawyer and sue them for damages.


I agree with WonderAus — sue them!


Always! They will point their fingers to GOD. Flood, haze, building collapse… everything! Enough is enough! These bullies get away with everything — beating around the bush and why not, when they are cheered along by “responsible” authorities. In the meanwhile, people suffer. People whose properties suffer during floods — start a rally!! This is not act of God. Don’t just suffer silently. It is the act of people… rather individuals with names and professional titles to their names. It is all about irresponsible developers, longkang engineers, longkang approving authorities etc. and the guy right at the top! By the… Read more »


Are you sure about ‘passing the buck’? A retention pond’s function is to reduce peak flow downstream by buffering some of the water. The pond fills up during heavy rain and slowly empties into the downstream drain. If the downstream drain is blocked or otherwise not flowing at its expected capacity, the pond won’t empty at or above its average input flow and will instead continue to fill. Once the pond is full, it can no longer function as a buffer, instead passing on its peak input flow as overflow. There are two obvious failure modes: one is a retention… Read more »

Darrel Ang Chek Howe

Sean , I agree with your opinion and it’s the best reasonable explanation rather the just pointing finger at USM


I agree with Sean. Almost everybody doesn’t understand the function of a retention pond. Just imagine there’s no retention pond inside USM, the Sungai Dua road and it’s surrounding would be flooded within minutes. Sg. Dua starts from the hilly areas of Bukit Gambir and runs through USM compound before exiting beneath Sg Dua road near McDonalds. We must investigate the root cause, which is the development of areas in Bukit Gambir / Lebuh Minden, plus heavy rain which create a lot of surface running water, and also the size of culvert beneath Sg Dua road. Why all the comments… Read more »


If you worked in an office of 1,000 people where there was only one toilet so that you occasionally overflowed and your boss repeatedly asked you to pay for the carpet to be cleaned and get bladder enlargement surgery, would you accept the blame?

What if you and all your colleagues end up working 24/7 with your enlarged bladders? There is still only one toilet. Sooner or later one of you will fill up.


How do you come to an assumption that’s USM is at fault? Why not DID, JKR, MPPP or State? Or even the developer that build the apartment, which is to save cost of earthworks, didn’t top-up the earth above min-water level?


Sean’s hit it on the head. USM has no control over drainage around the area. Too much water went into the retention pond from the deluge, from excessive run-off. And drainage downstream was compromised due to chokages or whatever. To want USM to solve the problem would require them to limit the ingress of water into their pond [which would of course result in immediate floods], or to clear all drains downstream, outside their premises. The state govt and DID should look at the large factors. In Singapore, there is strict control over how much you can pave over large… Read more »


Have u seen the amount of housing schemes booming up in Bukit Gambir area lately? For your info, USM’s hostels near Bukit Gambir have its own retention pond where else the housing schemes does not. Don’t just blatantly accusing USM for not taking any action.


Bad attitude of the surrounding residents. Just pin-point to the wrong party involved. Retention pond definitely help to reduce the overflow from the monsoon drain. Without this pond, teh flood will become worst, definitely. Did u all know that the pipe culvert under JKR road had been blocked on that day. The water jump and run over the road & at the same time, there is small quantity of water flow after the crossing…..what is that? JPS, as well JKR….please do something. To JPS…pls upgrade ur channel from this point to the waterfront. Otherwise not only residents, but USM also… Read more »


Please read the whole conclusion. Do not take it out of context. There are other method than TR-55 model and the paper itself stated that the model tends to over predict.
Just imagine what will happen if there’s no tasik harapan in the first place. This is typical Malaysian thinking, always seeing a small black dot over a whole whiteboard.

Ong Eu Soon

Who need a drainage in the first place? Under MSMA, no horizontal drainage conveyance system is needed. If USM really understand what is a low impact development, it will not build such kind of retention pond. Only fool cannot understand, you don’t need rocket scientist to build a proper low impact development flood mitigation system which is low budget and environmental friendly . Wonder how much the whole pond retention system cost? Stupid is what stupid do. How can the pond mitigate flood when it caused flooding.


Typical of BN govt civil servants. Burying their heads in the sand.


The problem with the rakyat of Malaysia, they stil have not found the guts and co-operation to sue the responsible party that created the havoc. In this case, it was obvious USM retention pond was the cause of the damages, the residents who have suffered looses should form a “grievance group” and take on the culprit. Singularly, you will not stand very little chance, united you will be winners. Then, the days of not able to exercise peoples; rights will be history.


ROFL. The multi-million retention pond are just Malaysia federal governmetn cosmetic pork barrel project. It is expensive to build and maintain, but rarely served its purpose during thunderstorm.

Malaysia government rather pay millions to let cronies build retention pond, bu refuse to implement policies/tax plan/incentive on all building to retain rain water.


What more can we curse about Satu Lagi Projek?

Easy (notwithstanding the ‘superlative’ expensive bill to the Rakyat) to build fishy pond, but problematic to maintain it by the local authorities!

Now how fishy it looks besides getting free Tilapia and Jelawat on rainy days.

Satu Lagi Problemo for flood-victimized Penangites, DID and JKR!


sick & tired of USM’s attitude. YB Raven & YB Sim’s assistants did a tour. Really need help from CM’s office as part of mitigation plan


You know USM has HBP-faculty in its Gelugor Main Campus. Housing Building and Planning. My friend graduated with a degree in HBP in year 1984. I wonder if the USM HBP can help/advise?