Monday, March 18

Sow the wind reap the whirlwind


THE morning after the thunderstorm, two love birds which have made my balcony their home, started winging in with twigs to build a new nest.

No doubt, their love patch could not have been spared by such a forceful thunderstorm that ripped up some roofs and uprooted many trees.

The feathered couple could have their roost destroyed just overnight by the lashing torrents or been driven to my balcony because their abode of twigs and leaves happened to perch on the limp of a tree in a wooded area which has been cleared for a mega mall in front of my apartment.

But the avian pair appeared to be taking the stormy havoc in their pinions, happily rebuilding their new home.

It was uplifting to see they were still able to tweet cheerily to each other as they flew back each time with new sprigs in their beaks.

The thunderstorm which hit at 5pm on the first day of Hari Raya, reportedly blew off the roofs of at least nine houses in a residential area. Another eight houses were damaged by flying debris with many trees sent crashing to the roads, causing serious traffic jams.

The upside was that apart from damage to properties and some inconvenience, there had been no reports of injuries to residents and road-users.

While there was peace at my balcony the morning after, the world outside was, unfortunately, not as amiable. Politicians from both sides were milking the calamity wrought by the tropical storm to gain mileage.

Winners and losers of the recent State elections were busy at the scene, promising swift relief but some were ostensibly much louder on social media, making press statements to ingratiate themselves with the victims.

Well, well. The next polls is still five years away but it seems politicians nowadays are making an early start, even to the extent of not only trying to make hay while the sun shines but also directly after a thunderstorm!

But, oh yes, there is a parliamentary election expected anytime between now and 2018. It is very likely next year.

You could say it was commendable of them to be present at the scene to give moral support even as the dedicated personnel from the Civil Defence Department, the Fire and Rescue Department (Bomba), Sarawak Energy Berhad, the police and the People’s Volunteer Corps (Rela) were carrying out their work.

It was noble of Local Government Minister Prof Dr Sim Kui Hian to instruct a contractor to start clearing the debris and build temporary roofs for the affected houses.

It was also fitting – albeit guardedly – for Dr Sim to make this statement during a site visit the next day: “We are working with other agencies to help those affected to make reports. As it happened on private property, it is unprecedented because unlike floods, there is standard protocol. We are collecting information to find out what form of assistance we can extend to them.”

He said once the debris was cleared, the house-owners could assess the damage and get an estimate on the costs of repairs.

However, as typical of him, Bandar Kuching MP Chong Chieng Jen was quick to point an accusing finger at Dr Sim for saying he had to look into whether there was any aid for the victims.

Chong’s rationale that relief for the number of houses, damaged by the storm in Kuching, does not amount to even one per cent of that given to the Kelantan flood victims two years ago, is inappropriate and unbecoming. If Chong is suggesting or accusing the huge financial aids to the flood in Malaya, he should bring this up to parliament at the next sitting, and appeal for assistance to the victims here in his constituency.

While it’s human to fight for government allocations to help natural disaster victims, a better approach would be to wait for the assessment of the damages caused – whether the properties are insured against “storm tempests” besides fire and flood, and whether the victims have the means to rebuild their homes.

The politicians could help the victims with insurance claims if the properties were insured against “storm tempests.” This would also help enlighten the public of a necessity to extend their insurance coverage.

An immediate call for the government to compensate the damages caused without first assessing the situation and considering all other means will cripple society.

For one, the people will be conditioned to believe that nobody else is responsible except the government. What such a mindset can espouse is a culture of entitlement (hand-out) since those affected may choose not to lift a finger to help themselves.

The victims will vent the anger on the government if immediate help is not forthcoming and neighbours and the public will not chip in to help as they have been drilled to think the government is solely responsible.

It should raise much alarm that a society of “negative thinking people” is mushrooming as politicians fight to win votes without considering moral values or the spirit of gotong royong and civic-consciousness.

This calls to mind Penang DAP’s appeal for public donation of RM1 million as bail money for Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng.  Whether it’s morally right to make such an appeal when an alleged corruption charge is involved is questionable.

But to many, at such difficult times, calling on the public to part with their hard-earned money for the sake of a political sindawara, neither reflects a political party’s sympathy, empathy nor consideration for the ordinary man in the street.

And certainly not for the better, Malaysians are now influenced by this mentality – when a bigger corruption case is not charged, the smaller corruption case should also not be charged. If charged, then it is politically-motivated.

This is a fallacy based on invalid or otherwise faulty reasoning  and may be deceptive by appearing to be better than it really is. It is committed intentionally to manipulate or persuade by deception. After all, a wrongful action is not a morally appropriate way to correct or cancel a previous wrongful action.

Amidst all the haughty political rhetoric, social activist Marina Mahathir had sent out a sober and timely reminder prior to Hari Raya.

The daughter of former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad shared a series of tweets on her twitter account:

“I think people should realise that “not joining IS’ can’t be limited to not taking up arms. It also involves not thinking like IS.

“The thing is a lot of people do think like IS but may never take up violence. But it just takes one person to create the havoc.

“And when that one person does, regardless of whether they are IS or not, then others can’t quite condemn him. Because they actually they agree with him.”

This is, indeed, food for serious thought – and deep soul-searching.