Monday, April 9, 2012
Don't know what's happening to the weather. Sometimes from the morning till about 2 -3 pm it's very hot and debilitating. Suddenly the sky turns black and it'll be pouring rain like some huge dam has broken in the sky. The city center in KL will be flooded. Klang, Kajang, JB, Kedah, Kelantan, Trengganu, even certain parts of Negri Sembilan which has never experienced any flood before will get a surfeit of the drink. And, ironically, the taps in our homes will run dry. Or pour out some muddy stuff.
No one can control the weather and the rain of course. Even the famous Malaysian rain-control magicians ( or rain bomohs) can only hive the rainstorm to some areas so that the place where some festivities or sporting events are being held will remain dry. Believe it or not, many outdoor sporting events and festival have remained uninterrupted by the rain while areas around the place where they are held will be raining cats and dogs. Science can never explain such phenomenon but if the magic works why not use it.
But so far no magician has come forward with a formula to solve the problem of flash floods. None of the flood-prone States, Districts, Municipalities or Town and City Councils or even the Federal irrigation and flood control "bomohs" has been able to concoct a mantra to solve the problem. A boy of thirteen travelling with me in a car when we got trapped in a flood commented: Why are the planners so stupid? They build roads with no side drain (monsoon drain we used to call it), and sometimes the drain in low areas is not deep enough for a buffalo to wallow in. I laughed at his simple-mindedness but am not too sure that he is stupid.
When I told him that it's often our rivers which have become too shallow or clogged with rubbish and cannot contain the flood water from the drains, he laughed and sang an old folk song: Oh crane, oh crane why are you so thin, it's because the fish don't appear, fish oh fish why don't you appear, because the grass is too long, grass oh grass why do you grow too long, because the buffaloes don't eat me, buffaloes oh buffaloes why don't you eat the grass, because there's no deep trenches for me to wallow in. (The last part is of course the kid's own creation).
I laughed and looked around the place during dry season. Sure enough the drains and trenches were so shallow or narrow to contain the water rushing down the steep roads and hills and carry it to the nearest river. The rivers in dry season were just rivers of sand with little rivulets flowing lazily. Even the buffaloes would not be interested in going into them. They have never been dredged let alone cleaned up.
Who to blame then? The planners, the irrigation and drainage experts, the authorities responsible for carrying out the dredging and cleaning up work, the supervisors, or the authority that dishes out the funds as approved by the planners. Back to the planners and as the Crane song has it: the buffaloes didn't eat the grass because of stomach ache, the stomach ached because of eating undercooked rice, the rice was undercooked because there wasn't enough wood to make a good fire, the wood couldn't burn well because it was wet, it was wet because of the rain, the rain came because it was called by the frog, the frog called the rain because the snake was chasing it, and the snake when asked why answered: it is my food.
So, why are the drains, the trenches and the rivers not big and deep enough for the flood water to be drained away? Because the planners didn't plan, they didn't plan because there was insufficient funds, why no funds? All spent to build the roads. Where will the merry go round stop?