Category Archives: Friends, Romans, countrymen

Lend me your ears

The Dragon descends

A thick blanket of grey clouds hovers precipitously above the horizon. Claps of thunder rumbled across the darkened skies as the cumulus gathers densely.

At first, the water drops came light and in sparse intervals, each drop distinctly audible like music notes sprinkling over zinc roofs. Soon, the choruses of rain transform into a cacophony of wild, torrential confusion.

And so the water dragon is mightily unleashed on the first day of the Lunar New year. Did you have a wet new year’s day too?

No sooner than 2 hours later, the skies cleared and the rejuvenated earth glistens. Slushy and soggy. But  gloriously refreshed.

Happy Lunar New Year everyone!

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Shaken earth and stirred thoughts

(I)

The earth has been restless. Just a day before the 11 March earthquake in Japan, another quake shook Southern China in the Yunnan province. And who can forget what happened in Christchurch on 22 Feb. All these quakes within a short span of 3 weeks.

Went to South America last year. In Chile then, the memory of Concepcion’s earthquake in Feb 2010 remained vivid in people’s minds.

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(II)

Overheard today:

“Never have I seen the nikkei futures index plunge so much in one day… given how Japan is prone to earthquakes, (one) would have thought more measures would be in place to prevent such a thing (nuclear leak) from happening.”

Many would readily agree that Japan is one of the world’s biggest economic powerhouses and  most technologically advanced countries. Long before the 2004 Boxing Day Sumatran earthquake and tsunami, the notion of earthquakes and tsunami has been firmly ingrained  in the Japanese  consciousness:- “tsunami” a.k.a. tidal wave, is in fact a Japanese word (津波 in kanji). The world is in awe of how the Japanese are so well-prepared for these inevitable natural disasters. Not just the seismic engineering feat and quake-proof buildings, but also the general public’s mental preparedness and orderliness.

Last Friday’s earthquake apparently caused radioactive leaks from nuclear plants in Fukushima. Has there truly been a lapse in safety measures as what some people say? That is for the investigators to find out.

But the devastation in Japan resulting from the earthquake and the tsunami alone shows that even with the ablest of preparations, one is vulnerable before the behemoth that is Mother Nature.

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(III)

Read somewhere that the residents of the worst affected area in Sendai had 10-15 minutes warning before the tsunami engulfed. 10-15 minutes do not seem like a lot of time but at least there is a warning system. I wonder what I would have done in those minutes. Questions such as “which item would you save when your house is burning down” would be rhetorical – the answer is simple: me and my family! Except that how many people would be calm enough to think of “Run for your life”? Would I be too shocked to the bones and paralysed with fear? Hopefully the natural instinct of survival, adrenaline and fear will steer me to do the sane thing.

In Singapore, a public warning system is activated every first noon of the month. It sounds akin to bell chimes (probably so as not to alarm the public unnecessarily). But just ask people living in Singapore and see how many people actually ever noticed it even once!

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(IV)

Was discussing a problem (not mine) with someone today. And as the other person said, in the face of unexpected scale of catastrophe that is happening in Japan and Christchurch right now (rescue efforts are on-going, and rebuilding communities and townships probably years on), the problem that we were discussing is probably not a big problem after all.

 

Here’s remembering the events of last Friday in Japan, in Christchurch, in Concepcion, in Sichuan, in Sumatra/Andaman, in Kobe… and many more.

 

Banjir alert!

pic from themalaysianinsider.com

While I was writing the last post, little did I know that the incessant rain has resulted in flooding . In fact, bad flooding in  Malaysia, to the point that the army has been mobilised for relief work.

The following places are affected: Melaka, various parts of Johor including Segamat, Kluang and Labis, Negeri Sembilan, Pahang and Sabah.

KTM services have also been affected (I recall getting caught once whilst taking the train during a flood – it was no fun). There is definitely going to be an impact on travel during this Lunar New Year festive season.

Worse than that, there will be people spending this holiday period in relief shelters instead of their homes.

By the way, the MET forecast says that it will continue to rain in Johor throughout this week. Ditto in Singapore.

A nation’s darkest hours

One reads of torch attacks and Molotov cocktails. In some far flung land, where society is fractious, where sentiments are vulnerable, where neighbours fight over arid earth.

But not here. Not this fertile land of beautiful islands, lush rainforest and blessed earth of natural resources. Not this land of gentle people who co-exist, even if a tad uneasily, but certainly not aggressively.

Until this dark day

Not to put the blame on any one party. But the fact of the matter is – the government has failed. It started by failing to engage sincerely with the various religious groups. It then puts a ban on the use of the word “Allah” by a Catholic newspaper, notwithstanding that there is already legal safeguard against converting a muslim. Can the government honestly say that it does not know that recourse can be sought against an administrative ban via  judicial review? Then, on the decision of the judiciary – even when pending appeal – the government had yet again failed, by doing little to calm what are inevitable sentiments. Thus leading to this dark day.

Leaders of our country should realise that their remarks and actions – and inaction – impact on the society which it leads.  Never had I thought that at the turn of the decade, our country would face its darkest hours that are unprecedented in my lifetime.

And so what if the government says it would not hesitate to take action against those who threaten the security of the country? The very same government department that is supposed to safeguard the security of the country has failed from the start to prevent all this from happening through ingenuous engagement.