Saturday, December 13, 2008

Bukit Antarabangsa Post Tragedy Close-Up

They say a picture paints a thousand words. Somehow, when I look through the photos I took yesterday and today, I think I fail to live up to the expectations. Perhaps, because the tragedy has passed and thus, the pictures cannot convey the sadness of the victims, nor the actual destruction of that day.

When Cornelius Ryan was commissioned to write the accounts of D Day at Normandy during the 2nd World War, he did not even know where to begin, and asked for the soldiers and their next-of-kin to write to him telling the accounts of the day from their eyes. Thousands did! And from there after interviewing many of them personally, the mental map he needed was formed and the book "The Longest Day", written. Do forgive me then as I try to put as many things on this blog, and failing in the process;
I am far from being anywhere even near his status.

The Base Camp.
As mentioned in the previous posting, I had not wanted to go to the scene of this tragedy, but changed my mind on Thursday night soon after a meeting with Doctor Lo'lo' and the LKKPP. The next day, on Friday afternoon, I arrived hoping to find PAS volunteers as well as record the ongoing rescue work. I registered as a volunteer at the base camp on Jalan Antarabangsa, introducing myself from LKKPP and was issued a tag. To ensure the security of the area, different tags are issued - one, for the residents; the other for security personnel, media and volunteer workers.

For volunteers, the tags issued are valid only for 3hours, after which, one must re-register again.
This is to prevent the abuse of the permission given and to allow authorities to identify
and keep tabs of the people there.

The Road.

The only road up.
The above road, was where the media had painted as 'pesta makan'.
I was told by Nik Shahrul that it truly did happen, especially on the first after the landslide.

The authorities has set up at least 2 base camps - the one above is the main camp where commands are issued, while the other is a support camp or relief center, situated at the Sekolah Kebangsaan Ulu Klang (am not too sure of the name). On both days of my being there, I did not have the chance to visit the support camp. InsyAllah, I will do so tomorrow but have been told that there are lesser activity there as compared to previous days.

Since the road above led to the temporary road built by the army and later upgraded by the JKR, all vehicles had to form a queue as the temporary road can only support vehicles in one direction at a given time. Vehicles going each direction had to wait up to 30minutes while vehicles from opposite directions pass through. Somehow, it reminds me of Frasers Hill of old.

The path of the landslide cannot be seen aproper unless from air. But it lies there, not more than 50meters after the crane.

Fit for 4wheel drive.

In total, there were 3 bridges built. 2, were by the authorities meant for vehicles - one pontoon and the other as the one above. The 3rd bridge, was hand-built by several volunteers and residents, and was led by YB Tien Chua. It was built to facilitate residents to travel by foot to another road via a small valley. In fact, this 3rd bridge was unofficially named 'Tien Chua Bridge' by some of the residents as well as workers.

Temporary Road.
When the army built the temporary road, they built it in the only way they know best
- using materials such as above to provide traction for the vehicles' tyres.
Perhaps best used only by 4wheel drive, the drive up and down may cause heavy tear
on the tyres as well as
shock absorbers of normal cars.

On the first day there, I picked up passengers while going up and down the hill. One of them was a Mr Richard Foo, the Manager for Oakleaf Club. He recounted several events of the actual day, which would be too long for me to write here. Earlier today just as when I was about to go up, I met him again. This time however, he had just come down the hill. When I introduced myself as being a representative for the LKKPP and hence, PAS, he was delighted and highly praised the AMAL unit. It was Mr Food and an Azhar who helped snapped the photos from within as my hands were already full trying to maneuver the car.

A Tough Climb.
Credit must be given to the Army, JKR, as well as TNB in trying to facilitate
all concerned with the building of the temporary road, in the shortest time possible.

A Smoother Ride.
Within several hours of early morning Saturday - 12midnight to 6am -
the JKR managed to build a tar road for half of the stretch of the temporary road.

The Scene.
Many reporters as well a volunteers were adviced not to proceed to closely to the landslide path as earth movements are still being felt and recorded. Thus apart from this restriction, Wak and I did not concentrate too much on the actual scene of the tragedy. Further, such photos have already been splashed on almost all dailies. We did however, managed to take shots where it all began.

One almost demolished, the other on the edge.
Notice the row of houses on the edge of the now crest at the far background of the photo.
Unless there is a miracle, the houses there are in grave danger.

From a slightly different position.
The trees swayed first, many said.
The creaking sound produced was eerie.

Then the earth gave way.

When the earth moved.
This was where the nightmare began.

The Front Line.

Once a small park and playground, the area is now deserted save for the few
who are either brave residents, or workers trying to salvage what they can
from an almost hopeless situation.
Several rows of apartment blocks lie on the edge
of what can be a raging torrent of water brought by heavy rain.

Personnel from various military and para military units work round the clock.

Taking a much needed break.

I managed to mingle with the security personnel above who were taking their much needed break. Many look tired...and some, frustrated. It seem, some snobbish residents had accused them of not doing their job and even name calling them. Truth is, as men and women of uniform, they cannot act according to their whims and fancies, and have to await orders from their command post. This is most especially true when each are assigned particular task and cannot leave their post unattended.

During a light moment with several FRU personnel, we caught them with a jibe "next when you confront us (Pakatan Rakyat party members) on the streets, do have a heart before swinging your baton". They, looked at us with a shock and were unable to utter any reply.

These employess of a company engaged by JKR to study the earth movement there,
should also be considered front-line heroes as they sit under the apartment
which is next to the raging flood of water.
But, it is a job they must do with 2 teams, each on a 12hour shift.

Some of the many volunteers represent various organisations. Clockwise from top right:
Zun Arif of Jemaah Islah Malaysia (JIM) with Wak Kasiran from webtv8;
Shahrul Niza, one of the first few on the scene (in my previous posting I noted his name as Nik),
posing with Sasha, formerly of the singing group Elite - she lives in the area;
some volunteers whose names I did not get;
and Kem, who heads the AMAL unit for the area.

Have We Not Learnt?

Top left: An abandoned project nearby to the tragedy.
Top right: A new project taking off along Zoo Negara road.
Bottom: A clubhouse under construction about 2km away from the tragedy.
Will it now be abandoned?

InsyAllah, tomorrow Sunday, will be my last day there. But I will try to get as many more pictures and stories possible.

Whether man-made history, or natural tragedy, no single person can convey the magnanimity of destruction that was brought onto the population of this planet. For all the money spent in astronomy and the search for life in outer space, would it not be wiser to spend more towards the betterment of the the society here on Earth? For this society we have here, comprise of humans, animals, plants, and the earth itself. Can't we, the human, teach ourselves to co-live in peace and harmony with the rest of the population?


Kata Tak Nak said...

Lovely, interesting and informative account except you did not tell all. Why no story about how you flirted with some of the female volunteers? ha, ha, something to hide?c

Anonymous said...

faham shah, berat lagi bahu yang memikul tu walapun kita dapat bayangkan kesedihan mereka. apa yang penting, sesuatu berita itu benar.
terima kasih shah.

Pak Idrus said...

Shah, your images does not show the tragedy. Almost everyone in your pictures look happy and enjoying themselves. Perhaps they are!!!.

I live not that far away from the place and know for a fact that the place is not safe for a dwelling place but then they just let them built whatever from a huge condo on the top of the hill to the terres houses. And if you have driven around you would notice there is no master plan about the development of the whole area. The whole area is like a bowl surrounding by hills and what happen when the bowl is filled to the brink, it would spill out and that what happen. Shah it is a catchment area for our water supply and not for folks to live.

I would suggest that the place is return to nature and turn into a part of sort and all those humanoid leave and live somewhere and be compensate since it is not their fault for leaving there in the first place.

That shah is my two sen worth.. Have a nice day anyway..

BTW did you meet you future other half there among those smiling things.

Pak Idrus said...

Note: The third para - It should read "turn into a Park of sort" not part. Thanks.

Ydiana said...

Salam Shah

Quite an illustrative writing on the tragedy, from another point of view. Is the place now deserted or are there still occupants living nearby? Waiting for you next update.

cakapaje said...

Salam Cikgu,

Lol! That one ar? No...where can story here! :)

But seriously, though there were many pretty women, my mind was more on the task at hand.

cakapaje said...

Salam E,

Memang benar E, berat lagi bahu memikul. Mana yang rumah mereka tidak musnah, kini terpaksa pindah dan menyewa sedangkan sebilangan besar mereka di situ bukanlah dari orang berada sangat.

Terima kasih kembali :)

cakapaje said...

Salam Pak Idrus,

Wah! This is a real honour...I seldom get any comments from you.

As for my entry, yes, I did not concentrate on the scene itself. Besides, as a volunteer and webtv8 crew (which is not accredited by the government), I, like many others, are barred from entering the actual site.

And true as you mentioned, this whole area was supposed to be water catchment area for the Klang Gates Dam. Unfortunately, some greedy soul also see it as a catchment area for money, and hence, the approval of houses and highrises there.

As for the other half, well, as I mentioned to Cikgu, my mind was focused elsewhere :)

You too, Pak Idrus, do have a great day :)

cakapaje said...

Wa'alaikumusalam ydiana,

Thank you for the compliment.

Well, many residents have moved out already, but there are still a number who refused to do so. One elderly man infact, said he can guarantee that his place is the safest as it was built on solid granite. But he seem to forget that nothing on Earth is safe, not even a mountain of steel. When the time comes to go, each will melt like cheese sliced with a hot knife.

InsyAllah, tomorrow morning I will update what happened today as I am too tired to do so now - its a bit time consuming as I have to sift through the photos.

cakapaje said...

Pak Idrus,

I almost forgot to reply about the 'happy faces' in the entry.

Foremost, for many of the faces, they have been on duty for a long duration. This is especially so with the security personnel, and they were on their break when I snapped their pictures.

Then, many did not experience nor see the tragedy firsthand, even the path of the landslide to witness the destruction caused. Their immediate concern is the safety of the remaining residents and not as a tourist.

Last but not least, the residents themselves, and there were many of them, were putting on their good side. Off course, I did not get to meet the actual victims...could not. Otherwise, I would put their story in as well. Then again, like I mentioned in the entry, the mainstream media would have covered that already.

Eskapisminda said...

Salam CA, thanks for the pics and story! (comel awek MPAJ yek..hehe)

Boleh tak saya pakai a few untuk my work? Tengah buat doko untuk tanah runtuh lah.

Raina said...

Amboi shah
pakat amik gambaq pompoan aje naaa
sat lagi
runtuh lak hati tu :D

cakapaje said...

Wa'alaikumusalam Intan,

Be my guest to the pictures you need. If you find it suitable to credit this blog, kindly do so.

Er...what MPAJ aweks? ;)

cakapaje said...

Salam raina,

Aweks? Ada ke? Eh, tak perasan lak. Ye lah, kita main tekan butang je kan :)

Eskapisminda said...

Hi CA, thanks, I will use some of the pics. The ones confirmed used insyallah ada sikit token. Will let u know. :)

Ada resolution yang besar lagi tak?

cakapaje said...


The camera I use is a simple Olympus, tu pun pinjam from my brother. Kalau ada pun, it would be the unedited photos in my folder, or the new blog I've just set up - pictures-only blogspot.

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