Photo: Malay Mail Online

Penang state exco Abdul Malik says the recent floods in the state is a wake up call to all parties on the importance of weather reports

GEORGE TOWN: One of the lessons to be learnt from the deadly floods in the region around Penang is the need to seriously heed weather reports and warnings, said Penang PKR vice chairman Abdul Malik Abul Kassim.

“It has now become a lesson for the people to pay attention to weather reports. Something which the average Malaysian has taken for granted for years.”

Abdul Malik, who is a state executive councilor, said that Malaysians have coexisted in a moderate climate since independence where there were low incidences of extreme weather, unlike some other parts of the world.

“Perhaps we have grown accustomed to subtle weather but when it turned torrid like last Sunday, we become overly upset. That has become the trend now.”

Now, there is public comprehension that there was a need to screen, digest and accept such reports, said Abdul Malik.

However, he also said that the meteorological services authority need to improve their public interaction as they were largely absent in the run-up to the floods which drenched Penang for up to a day.

Though he said that it was unfair to expect them to bear full responsibility, there was room for improvement on how information was dispensed.

The emergency alert system needs to be fine-tuned besides the blaring of sirens or television announcements, and there is a need to leverage social media to make a point about the weather status, said Abdul Malik in an interview.

He supported the notion that there could be a requirement to improve services such as early warning system for extreme weather made online at least five hours before it arrives and posting constant messages to forewarn the people.

“But if such messages come … such as an orange alert for rainfall, how do the people react? We have gotten used to a leisure pace. We practically do not know how to respond to disasters or emergencies.”

The authorities must find a way to channel accurate information to the people so they can take preventative measures, such as moving to higher ground and at the same time how to cope with floods.

Drainage systems

There is also a need for the people to embrace weather reports, similar to how other countries have come to regard them as crucial when they head outdoors.

Importantly, the construction of residential, commercial or public properties must come with effective drainage systems to flush out excess water.

His view was shared by state officials, who said that there was a need for a fresh standard operating procedure to address floods in the country.

“We can no longer sit ideal as floods have ravaged many parts of the country in the last decade. Something is wrong with the climate, rains have become deadly.”

Losses are often in the millions.

There is also a need to invest in technology for household items which are resistant to water and building barricades to keep the water out.

And of course, a need to review the development policies to accommodate the rapid changing weather patterns, the officials said.

Pakatan Harapan elected representatives had voiced out their displeasure with the weather authorities because the warning about the rain storm came late.