Invariably, being wives of Wakil Rakyat, they were all wearing tons of gold and jewellery and the rescuers had a gala time ‘relieving’ the dead and badly injured of their valuables.
NO HOLDS BARRED
Raja Petra Kamarudin
I really don’t know whether I need to write anything today. I mean, the three news items below are so, so self-explanatory that they certainly do not need further input from me. Nevertheless, you know me, I don’t often allow for something like this to pass without butting in with my comments -- so here goes.
This latest episode of the landslide in Bukit Antarabangsa reminds me of the floods in Johor two years ago. Then, too, there were complaints that the rescuers would not evacuate stranded victims unless they were paid some money. Those who suffered the bad luck of not having any spare cash on their person were left to their own devices. It seems one old Chinese woman died because they would not rescue her.
Many years ago -- some time in the 1980s -- a group of Terengganu women charted a bus to take them to Kuala Lumpur. These were all wives of Terengganu Wakil Rakyat. The Menteri Besar’s wife was supposed to have also joined the excursion but at the eleventh hour she changed her mind.
Just before the bus reached Dungun, it veered off the road and crashed down a ravine. An army truck happened to pass by and the soldiers immediately organised a rescue operation. The Dungun general hospital, which was not that far away, also sent some ambulances and a team of medics.
Nearly all the women were injured, many badly, while some were unconscious. Some died on the spot and others died later in hospital. I lost a number of friends or wives of friends in that crash, one of them my neighbour.
Invariably, being wives of Wakil Rakyat, they were all wearing tons of gold and jewellery and the rescuers had a gala time ‘relieving’ the dead and badly injured of their valuables. The looting was probably regarded as ‘payment’ for dragging the dead and injured out of the ravine.
The sad thing is, this happened to helpless women who were lying dead or badly injured and who could not offer any resistance. And the looting occurred in Terengganu Darul Imam (Terengganu the Land of Faith). And the looters were citizens of Terengganu ‘the Land of Faith’ who would never dream of missing a day of fasting or skipping even one of their five times a day prayers.
Yes, I had better stop here lest Jakim and its cohorts, again, make a police report against me and the police come arrest me on charges of ‘insulting Islam’.
Rescuers were cold hearted
The family of a woman who recently gave birth has accused Malaysian rescue personnel of acting in a cold-hearted manner, resulting in the woman's death in the Bukit Antarabangsa landslide tragedy.
This came as residents of the housing estate in Kuala Lumpur, hit by a landslide on Saturday which killed four people and buried 14 houses, said yesterday they were considering suing the government for compensation.
According to news portal Malaysiakini, Ms Ng Yee Ping's husband was desperately digging through the earth with his bare hands to save his wife, a 30-year-old accountant who delivered a son two months ago. He thought help had arrived when rescue personnel reached the scene. But all they reportedly did was throw him a spade.
Speaking at Ms Ng's funeral service on Monday, her mother-in-law, Madam Wong Sai Mooi, said she, her husband, her sons and grandson managed to escape. "But (I) did not know that my daughter-in-law was buried alive. Then I heard my eldest son (Ms Ng's husband) calling his wife, telling her to remain conscious," she was quoted by Malaysiakini as saying.
"Later, a few rescue personnel arrived at the scene but they just threw a spade at (my sons) and did nothing ... (They treated her) like some dead dog or cat," Madam Wong added, claiming that Ms Ng would still be alive if the rescuers had rendered assistance.
Madam Wong's husband, Mr Ng Yong Shun, also accused the rescuers of looting his house after he returned to the house on Sunday morning. "My wife and I examined our safety box and found it opened. Several branded watches and jewellery were missing," Mr Ng, 56, was quoted by Malaysiakini as saying.
Selangor police chief Khalid Abu Bakar came to the defence of the rescuers, citing their lack of training as a reason, according to Malaysiakini. He said the police will conduct a thorough probe into the matter.
Meanwhile, Bukit Antarabangsa residents said they have set up a legal team. Mr N Muniandy, chairman of the residents' association, was quoted by AFP as saying: "If we have concrete evidence, then we will go against the authorities concerned. It is not our fault at all. We are the victims."
In response, Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi said yesterday the government would consider paying compensation to the landslide victims. (TODAYonline)
Police To Investigate Victim's Complain Against Rescue Team
Selangor Police Chief Datuk Khalid Abu Bakar said a complaint lodged by a Bukit Antarabangsa landslide victim against the search and rescue operations team would be investigated.
The husband of Eng Yee Peng who perished in the landslide at Taman Bukit Mewah, Bukit Antarabangsa here on Saturday (6 Dec), had alleged that the rescue team failed to respond positively when he sought their help to save his wife.
Khalid said police had contacted the husband of Eng to come to the Search and Rescue (SAR) centre to assist in the investigation.
"I was informed of the complaint and police had since contacted the husband yesterday but he had not responded yet, probably because he is still in mourning.
"However, I can assure that a very detailed investigation will be carried out to identify who the said individual was," he told reporters here Tuesday (9 Dec).
A local Chinese daily report claimed that the husband of Eng had sought help from the rescue team but was given a hoe and asked to dig and find his wife on his own.
He added that though no police report was made with regard to the incident, police would still carry out an investigation and urged victims to contact the SAR operations centre or the information centre for help and advise.
"These centre are set up to help victims and they should keep in touch with the centres for the latest information, directive or help. We are also ready to help those who want to return to their damaged houses in search of their valuables," he said.
"All facilities are in place at these centres and victims should come forward and use them. If there was a problem, they can make a report to us."
Meanwhile, search for the missing Sri Lankan maid believed to have been trapped under the rubble when 14 bungalows were fully or partially buried by a landslide that hit Bukit Antarabangsa early Saturday morning, continued Tuesday (9 Dec).
Khalid said the SAR Team, using highly sophisticated devices and equipment to detect trapped victims and sniffer-dogs from the Fire and Rescue Department unit have yet to come up with any positive indication.
"The SAR Team are working very hard and doing everything possible to focus on the house of the victim. They have already digged five-feet into the rubble. There could be a possibility that the victim may have been swept away to another location and we are studying all likely possibilities," he said.
The Sri Lankan maid, Lourdes Mary, in her 30s worked for the family of veterinarian Dr N. Yogeswari, who was killed in the tragedy.
He added that search and rescue operations carried out by the SAR Team was full-steam ahead Tuesday due to the good weather while the Malaysian Public Works Institute (IKRAM) provided the necessary assistance and advise. (Bernama)
'She would be alive if they had helped'
In a frantic attempt to save his wife, a 31-year-old executive was forced to dig through the earth with his bare hands until his fingers bled.He felt a sense of relief when rescue personnel arrived at the scene. But to his horror, they refused to help him, apart from throwing him a spade.
The startling accusation was made by the family of Ng Yee Ping, a 30-year-old accountant who perished in the Bukit Antarabangsa landslide tragedy on Saturday.
Yee Ping (left), who delivered a son two months ago, is believed to have died of internal injuries due to broken ribs.
However, Selangor police chief Khalid Abu Bakar came to the defence of the rescue personnel, citing their lack of training as a reason.
Speaking to reporters at the funeral service for Yee Ping yesterday (Monday), her family vented their frustrations claiming that she could still be alive if rescue personnel had acted promptly.
Recounting the ordeal, yee Ping's mother-in-law Wong Sai Mooi said she and her husband had escaped through the second-floor window. She then called out for her two sons.
"I heard my sons reply, I also heard my grandson crying. I felt relieved but did not know that my daughter-in-law was buried alive.
"Then I heard my eldest son (Yee Ping's husband) calling his wife, telling her to remain conscious," she was quoted as saying by China Press.
At this point, Wong (left) said she knew that her daughter-in-law was trapped, but fearing that there could be another landslide, she told her sons to leave the damaged bungalow.
However, yee Ping's husband refused to leave his wife behind, and after handing his newborn son to his brother, he started to dig with his bare hands. His brother later returned to help him.
'They treated her like a dead dog'
After some time, just as they managed to reach the victim's hand, several rescue personnel passed the area. The brothers asked them for help but were told to wait until more personnel arrived.
"Later, a few rescue personnel arrived at the scene but they just threw a spade at (my sons) and did nothing," she alleged, claiming that Yee Ping could still be alive if they had assisted.
"But they didn't (help). (They treated her) like some dead dog or cat. Would they have done the same if one of their family-members was involved?" she asked bitterly.
Wong's husband, Ng Yong Shun, 56, also accused the rescue personnel of looting his house and consuming his expensive wine.
He claimed that when he returned to the house on Sunday morning, he was shocked to discover several men in uniform lying on his bed, smoking and drinking his wine.
"One of them had even asked me whether I still wanted these things, if not I should give it to them. Later, my wife and I examined our safety box and found it opened. Several branded watches and jewellery were missing," he said.
According to Oriental Daily News, Ng said he lost 80 bottles of expensive wine worth RM160,000 and six watches worth RM180,000.
Police chief: 'I don't believe'
Commenting on the accusations yesterday, Khalid said he found it hard to believe that rescue personnel would have acted in such a cold-hearted manner.
"I don't believe that they would sit there and drink alcohol and so on. If there is such a person, could he be seen as a human being?" asked the police chief.
Khalid said the police would meet with the family to gather more information and conduct a thorough probe into the matter.
On the same note, he explained that some rescue personnel who are untrained are not allowed to conduct certain rescue operations.
"You don't expect an ambulance driver to save a buried victim. He is not trained, so if we request untrained personnel for help and they refuse, we shouldn't blame them.
"This is because their lives are in danger too. I think we should respect their decision. To dig and save someone, one has to be trained. For an untrained person, it's a very dangerous task," he said.
Is it a carnival?
Khalid also expressed disappointment with the media for publishing such accounts without verifying the matter with him.
"I hope that before you all write your news, you will consult me first, and make sure such things really happened. Is there anything wrong with that?
"Please, we are working hard here, and you are making it into a situation where people would have a negative impression of us," he told reporters.
Khalid also saw red when quizzed on the 'carnival-like atmosphere' with the abundance of food and other facilities for rescue personnel.
"What do you think? Does it really look like a carnival? If that is the case, you write (what you want), there's no need to ask for my opinion," he thundered.
"Is it a carnival or is the rescue team working hard? If you think it's the former, you just write, it seems you have enough intelligence to comment on it," he added. (Malaysiakini)