A flood disaster that says a thousand words

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Flash floods caused by torrential rainstorm inundated Penang and on that day my friend Rong Shao was in Penang visiting relatives. He was held up in the flooded areas and could not go anywhere.

At that moment, his elder sister, who is over 60 years old, firmly believed that Chief Minister Lim would dispatch people to rescue them. After waiting for a long time, she gave up hopes eventually.

Several hours later, those rescuers at the door steps to help them turned out to be soldiers and MCA volunteers. Then his sister, who is a Penang state voter, said Chief Minister Lim must have phoned the army for help and thus they came.

My friend, who is a former media strongman, was not so gullible. He immediately phoned up the newspaper office for confirmation. The answer was  the army had been ordered to the flooded areas by Hishammuddin at midnight even before Chief Minister Lim made the call.

He found his sister’s protective attitude towards the “deity” ridiculous. On the other hand, he also had high respect of the self-promotion tactic of the Rocket. They made all the false pretensions, claiming credit for all the good things while blaming their political rivals for all the bad things.

My friend said as a former newspaperman, he could not be easily cheated. However, his relatives who live in isolated areas believe in stories spun by Rocket people, saying that this was purely a natural disaster and had nothing to do with forest clearing, sea reclamation and hillside housing development.

They were moved to tears by the fact that Chief Minister Lim phoned Ahmad Zahid pleading for help but never thought of those responsible for the environmental damage which caused the massive disaster. Such thought may not have even crossed their mind!

To most Penang flood victims, all credit must be given to Chief Minister Lim for making the phone call. Hishammuddin’s order deserved no credit. Najib’s assurance that even if Chief Minister Lim had not pleaded for help, the army would be there to help had been treated as a “show”. Donations from all quarters, including the RM1 million from David Kong, have been raised by the Rocket which takes all the credit.

When the Prime Minister made an on-the-spot goodwill announcement of RM1 billion allocation for flood mitigation projects, Chief Minister Lim responded by asking: “Where are the balance of the other few billions allocations?”

The unspoken meaning is that: “you are the culprit. The long delay in giving the allocations have caused us the disaster.” This is akin to “I claim all the credit, you take the blame.” It is so amazing when the art of politicking can shake off all responsibility and claim all credit of the flood relief operation to himself.

When my friend questioned the Rocket based on his former journalistic knowledge and experience, he was berated and mocked by his nephews and nieces, saying that my friend was a former journalist of a Barisan Nasional newspaper and had been “too deeply poisoned” and thus talked bad about Lim Guan Eng. They turned a deaf ear even how much my friend had tried to reason with them. When the argument and debate got stuck, they blurted out, “Then I would not vote for either side!”

The unfortunate flood disaster has thrown many people deep into mental struggle. It has also enabled some people to see clearer certain myths. They could see clearly the political reality where certain politicians could only talk but have no real political power.

It is said that “a picture says a thousand words.” Similarly, a flood disaster could also says a thousand words, revealing both the truths and falsehood!