Bau Floods-Lessons to be learned.


Cleaning up time for the lady at Kampong Blimbin, Bau after the flood subsides on Monday. That night, the flood level was as seen on the cement wall, about eight foot of water where the lady is standing.

Natural disasters and how to overcome them had been, are and will be the challenges for every Government in power, including in USA where Hurricane Katrina had created havoc. In Malaysia we are mainly concerned with flooding. Unless every level of the Government is alert and concern about it, flooding will remain to be a nuisance to everybody affected, private or public.

One of my main concern while I had the power to address the problems caused by floods was to make make sure minimal disruptions to everyday activities and life because of communication cut-off. But it is sad to say, I was also the victim from Saturday 10th January to yesterday, the 12th when finally I was able to return at 8.00 pm swimming through the last protion of Batu Kawa road, a stretch of about 0.5 kilometer some at four feet of water, in my Landcruiser while other in smaller cars lined up to wait or had to used the Matang detour to Taman Malihah and Satok way. Luckily my vehicle could “swim”( but rather ploughing through the water) without an incident.

Krokong/Bau section Closed by Taiton low lying area.

Krokong/Bau section Closed by Taiton low lying area.

Another five foot at the end of this section at the bridge would have the road passable throughout the flood. Even with the other parts clear on Monday the motorist still have to wait till about five pm before this section is clear of the flood water.

Yet my hassles and others delays and problems would have occurred if only the implementors and consultants who were employed by the Taxpayers had done their jobs MORE diligently. As to the Batu Kawa portion of the flooded road, I had told JKR about the need to raise that portion of the road earlier, but yet with the completion of the dual highway the level is almost the same as the old one, even though they should have learned the needed lessons during the 2004 great flood. Whose faults then for all the unneeded miseries caused by the present flood over the last few days. Even the District Officer was caught for two days without change etc. Luckily Bau Town was still open, so he could get what he needed. Like me only last night, he was able to go home. But for Bau hospital, they caught with one doctor working two days without relief while the others were stuck in Kuching and elsewhere. Luckily for the Government, there was no real emergencies except for the poor who got their houses flooded and suffered from the losses of their belongings, because they could not afford to buy or build houses in a non flood prone areas, like Kampong Pengkalan Bau, Buso and Siniawan as well Bidayuh villages like my own where I was stuck in my Kampong House for the last two days.

Rations reliefs were sent by helicopters yesterday though to my kampong and the surrounding areas affected by the flood, thanks to the concerned and hard work of the Bau Flood Relief Committee. In fact I met the Deputy Chief Minister, Tan Sri George and the Deputy State Secretary at Bau Hospital yesterday but unfortunately without the respective BN representatives from the Constituency. Presumably they were busy elsewhere though.

Immediate relief was going on quite well but the Government could have done better if they had marked all the flood sections of the roads with bamboo poles or other alternatives with clear signs to show how deep the flood level is. It would have made it easier for monitoring as well as for traffic to decide whether to “swim” through or not. These markers can be used for future planning especially in the upgrading of the main trunk roads.

For example Krokong/Jagoi areas need not be cut off from Bau if the Taiton section and a few more sections are raised by four to five feet. Bau needs not be cut off from Kuching if only the two portions, Siniawan and Kranji/Tanjong Durian, which were upgraded to make the old Bau road weather proof. Yet in some areas, it was under five to six feet of water, because of poor specifications by the Consultants and subsidence on certain areas because of substandard contract works, making the road impassable to traffic for two days.

Thus unless we have proper records of flood levels in flood prone areas to guide future planning and implementation of projects, we will have more unnecessary problems due to poor implementations by the respective agencies involved in future.

Man watching the "drowning" Bau District Police headquarters

Man watching the "drowning" Bau District Police headquarters

This was on Monday afternoon. The flood level was about three foot higher during Sunday. It is said that the people have to “rescue the Police first” as their first floor had to be evacuated first. Luckily this time all the water-sensitive properties had been relocated to the first floor after the 2004 debacle, when they lost many items to the flood. But why this site was chosen by the Siting Committee knowing the area is flood-prone and secondly why didn’t the consultant insisted the site be dumped up to the road level at least. The Sebuku road, which still under water was known to everyone in Bau to be flooded to the present to everyone in Bau, except apparently to the Chairman of the Siting Committee and the Consultant to the project. It appears that the To Peh Kong Committee is more aware of the flood level than the Consultant, which designed the complex and supervised the contractor during the construction and the Siting Committee. What had gone wrong in between to make the Bau Police to be the first to be rescued?

Hopefully the Government has learned all the lessons so that future floods will be less disruptive, not only in Bau but throughout Sarawak and if possible Malaysia. The main trunk roads should be built to be weather-proof, meaning the level to which they must be constructed must be above the highest known flood level. Police stations and critical government buildings must be sited in a non flood prone areas, where possible. If not, then the site of any buildings should dumped to raise it above the known flood level at the very least. Access to these buildings must be also flood proofed where possible.


Filed under Local news- Sarawak.

20 responses to “Bau Floods-Lessons to be learned.

  1. lim

    There is element of corruption involved the Bau district police Hq construction and the land requisition?
    Have you heard of that?This is the talk of the town when ever there is flooding in Bau.First to submerge are the police and they are the first to be rescued -poor guy!

  2. partistar

    Thanks, there were rumors about why the site was chosen and nobody at that time wrote to me about it. Thus I was powerless to go ahead with an official complaint and requested further investigations by ACA.

    However it is a stark example of what had, is and will be going on in our system unless all Honorable Members of both Houses are held accountable by the voters. In Malaysia, corruption can be bypassed by a simple declaration of self interests by the decision maker or the inability of ACA to find evidence of money actually being passed over.

    Only small fishes can be caught but not those with right connection. Smaller fishes can also be framed. There is a case, still waiting to be heard in the Appeal Court, where the “TOWKAY” planted evidence involving cases of MRP handouts on a “poor civil servant” who claimed that he was even punched by the ACA boss for refusing to sign “a confession of guilt”, already written for him to sign. The poor civil servant was even challenged to lodge a police report on the ACA Boss for that “punch”. He is in trouble to-day just because he refused to sign for works not done and the “Big Towkay” with a big “STICK” could not collect. Had he done so, he would be rewarded and would be driving a new car to-day. But instead, he may go to prison if he loses the Appeal.

    Just like myself being framed in 1995, so I could be kicked out because many BN businessman’s cronies complained that I was too strict about contracts awards and performances amongst the many other political reasons. But as I told Datuk Ang Lai Soon during one Chinese New Year in his house that I have to be what I am because if I don’t, ” ONE DAY OUR RINGGIT WILL BE WORTH LESS THAN FIFTY CENTS SINGAPORE”. This where we are to-day! So they must be a lot of TAXPAYERS’ money wasted but there is no way we can prove any corruption against any of the BOSSES unless the voters want them out and make sure that a real change of Government where hopefully the LAWS can be amended to disallow all elected representatives TO BE INVOLVED IN BUSINESS like in Singapore.

    The voters must and should make sure that corruption cannot be avoided by just having to “declare one’s interests”. Unless this is done, corruption will be just a way to fill one’s pocket.

    Well, it is the Police in trouble now in Bau. They can demand a review as to why they are “asked to drown every Bau Flood” before it is too late. They can ask why when the flood prone area was not filled to the level of the new by-pass for instance. Secondly why the State agreed to the site, when it was supposed to locate all new Structures away from the sink-hole areas on the Town side and not on the JKR and Hospital side.

    Anyhow it is Sarawak BN in action after they “framed” me out in 1995 and Bau voters could not understand why I was sacked from the State Cabinet and then got suspended indefinitely by SNAP leaders then.

  3. Pingback: Global Voices Online » Malaysia: Lessons from the flooding disaster

    • partistar

      Indeed there are always more to be learned from any experience. For instance the only reason why so many villages were cut off even in areas where substantial amount of money from the major commercial center is that we did not insist that all new roads must be above the major flood level as a major policy.

      Even Bau was cut off from Kuching for instance, the Capital of Sarawak, just because an over-all less than one kilometer stretch in both accesses to Kuching in known flood areas was not raised to another four to five foot.

      Bau POLICE District Office NEEDS not drown again in future flood if all the present ground floor is converted to a basement with proper waterproof retaining wall immediately surrounding the complex and raised the compound and car parks one foot above the current bypass level. The Office can function in any sort of rainy conditions.

      To ensure that School activities and that the Boarders of both Lake and Bau Secondary School are not caught without adequate rations like what happened on the 10 & 11th January when parents had to risk their lives to rescue their children from these schools because the students were not allowed to go hope unless one of their guardian signed for them personally, the Government has to spent a small amount of money to upgrade less than a kilometer of the flood-prone stretch of the roads which were cut off during those two days. Once this is done Bau District Office needs not worry about rescuing or helping anyone during the flooding seasons in the Bau district except for those villages which situate in flood prone areas.

      Even then if the resettlement to a higher ground as proposed over twenty years ago were done for the Malay villages in flood areas of Bau, the flood would affect them to the level of agony and suffering that they now have to endure. How much unnecessary losses of household items, I do not know but if I do the survey I will damned as a “busybody” by BN “sour grapes”. But their current losses are utterly unnecessary!

      Yes, there are plenty of lessons to be learned from Bau miseries alone and these lessons can be used for other flood prone areas throughout Sarawak and even Malaysia as a whole.

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  6. John

    the present Bau Police Station site was never approved by the SPU and the land office, but by the Police Dept. themselves, working hand in glove with the land owners, the contractor and consultant. Corruption is very much the order of the day with the Police Dept. this case should b investigated by the present MACC.

    • partistar

      Where if what you say can stand in court, hopefully MACC will come to know about it and make a full investigation so that this issue will be settled once and for all. I did beg for the allocation for a new Bau Police Station but as usual I could not have a say in its siting because of my dismissal from power and also my stand of “noninterference” policy in the implementation of any projects as within the Government system there are people being employed with Taxpayer’s money to ensure proper and transparent implementation of all projects as you may know and implied.

      Hopefully the Police will clean its own actions before they can truly protect Law and Order for all Malaysians, especially the poor and downtrodden. However our System of Government demands that they only protect those in power so far.

      However the onus of cleaning up lies with registered voters and especially the younger generation who must know their rights to protect their interests and demand for the RULE OF LAW to preserve ORDER which is needed by our continued progress and a better future.

  7. Colin Ubeh

    I doubt it that Malaysia will be free of corruption during my lifetime. If I have it my way, I will turn myself as a vigilante and hunt down every corrupt politicians, civil servants etc. What to do, I do not have a will nor a way.

    • partistar

      Corruption is a legal term which is being defined by the Laws which are made by the Party in power. It is a difficult evil to eradicate because the majority of our voters prefer politicians who can cheat and lie and can buy their votes. It is our political culture where almost everyone expects politicians to give them “free lunch”.

      You do not need to be a vigilante to make our country more transparent and less corrupt. You can help by educating your friends and relatives NOT to expect “free lunches or sell their votes/support for cash”. Further they have to reject “politics of projects” and demand that the Party in power to work for you by demanding more transparency. If you can collect evidence of abuses and get the victims to sign affidavits which can be used in the Courts to convict, then do so.

      Furthermore you can start an organisation demanding that all politicians and their families must not be involved in businesses like in Singapore. Any involvement must be deemed to be corrupted. Only then, only concerned Malaysians will want to be in politics.

      Most of all if you are really concerned, then you should become an active STAR member. STAR is SENTIASA TIDAK AMAL RASUAH. Make it your slogan too and bring in honest people to become our Honorable Members.

  8. Dear Dr Patau,

    In the 80s I was commanding 10th Rangers in Bau. There was a bad flood and I had to use the Matang detour to get to my Camp Tasik Emas. The flood lasted for about 3 weeks. Judging by what you had described, it wasn’t as bad, though.

    I believe the causes of floods in Malaysia are all the same – improper drainages in built-up areas to drain out the flood waters as fast as possible into the rivers and the heavily-silted and polluted rivers that slow down the flows of the swollen rivers into the sea.

    All these are man-made problems caused by uncaring and greedy people.

    To me, we shall continue to be besetted with this problem for as long as we harbour this kind of mentality.

    We can deepen the rivers but as long as we have indiscriminate loggings and uncaring developments we will continue to be besetted with floods.

    • partistar

      What you say is true. The Barrage that we built plus the cut-off of the Santubong arm of Sarawak river has made the floods worse off than what it should have been. Of course all the built-up areas in Kuching proper without any displacement areas for all the traditional soak-up lowlands of Matang and Batu Kawa areas had made the floods worse than it should have been than before. My own villages got flooded two more times since the last one I described. If the rain fall had been as heavy and as long as before the level would be worse. This time for Saturday and Sunday traffic could not go through the Matang way as Tondong and Grogo stretches were impassable as well.

  9. Colin Ubeh

    I remember a couple of years back, when Johor was inundated. Help came rushing from all over Malaya. The flood was on front page of every news papers and it was main story of prime time news.

    I don’t see the same in Sarawak. No aid is coming to our state. Front page story was about Gaza same with the prime time news. The news of flood take the last pages which took the space of a small column.

    Our state have contributed so much to Malaysia. Much of the development in Malaya was contributed by East Malaysia. Why no help from Malaya?

  10. Dear Colin,

    No help from Malaya? I see two reasons why no help came:

    Firstly, Sarawak has enough resources at hand.
    Secondly, you didn’t shout for HELP! That is why no one came to your aid!

    Seriously, we Malaysians are very helpful and generous. If anyone needs help just say so and it should be coming lavishly.

  11. partistar

    Najib did come and announced RM12.00 million as the first allocation of which Bau was allocated RM500 per door but where only 50 doors were given, 38 Malay households, 12 Bidayuh and none for the Chinese even though it was handed out just before the new year. This was what a reliable source which attended the meeting at the Resident Office told me. It was confirmed that only ten households out of 39 affected in Kampong Suba Buan were given in this allocation. Now the Authorities are collecting all the affected families and time will tell whether all will get the RM500.00.

    As for emergency responses, the District Office Flood Relief Committee did sent emergency rations to the affected villages and the surrounding Malay Households were also taken care of. I saw the operation with my own eyes because I was also stranded in my own village. In fact I met George Chan, DCM in charge of flood relief Committee, visiting Bau District Hospital with the Deputy State Secretary that Monday morning with the flood receding.

    Yes, we did take care of one another in our village and fortunately the flood did not last long as the stocks of rice ran out within the none flooded village shops. Another two days, we would have to swim to Bau to get our rations.

    Why they shout for help? Well by characters, Dayaks are not “beggars” by nature.

  12. Capt (R) CHUAH CHIN AUN

    I recently went back for CNY to my in laws place in Bau and there was flooding again. There was a landslide on half of the road on Bau Matang road. The location is nearby the traffic lights where one can go to the town, police station or taiton. Half of the road was closed with only a tape and nothing has been done. The road became narrower each day. If a vehicle were to plunge into the ravine due to landslide, then everyone will be pointing fingers like the Bukit Antarabangsa incident. Hope the authorities can think of the safety of Bau people.

    • partistar

      True what you have observed. The portion you mentioned is now blocked off and a detour through the Old Sebeku road is a very big inconvenience now to all users as on the old bypass there is an on-going slow construction done by a DID contractor working on a “snail pace” rate.

      In fact if you drive along all the roads in Bau or elsewhere now, all you have is that red tape to demarcate slope failures in the affected stretches.

      Maybe the main Contractor for road maintenance try to save money without giving proper warning to any closure or hazards, as it was done during JKR’s time. Normally then, empty drums with a blinking light are placed strategically to warn traffic users of the danger. Any accidents or mishaps in these stretches the victims can sue the Contractor and the Government as respondents for inadequate warning as to the hazards.

  13. Capt (R) Chuah,

    Where are you camping now? Can you give me your email address?

  14. hamderhak

    A good government cares and plans for the future.
    However, a corrupt system will result in floods, traffic congestion and poor road system.

    Only death cannot be predicted but flood prevention and traffic congestion can be planned with the political will. Alas, because of corruption there are no planning or bad planning .

    A good plan will ensure good drainage are being built to remove flood waters as quickly as it is formed and no villages will be isolated.

    Good road planning also disperses traffic and avoid choking up of cars on roads.

    Maybe, the govt is more interested in their own pockets than the rakyat.

    • partistar

      Right now the DID is doing the flood mitigation project around the Police Station. The Contract has been on even before the flood. The bund created around the Office is higher than the previous flood level and appears to be above the first floor level. Let us hope that it will be ready before the next flood and the Station will be safe from flooding.

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