Malaysia: Get ready for extreme weather, warns expert

S. K. Thanusha Devi New Straits Times 6 Dec 11;

THE freak storms and heavy downpours which struck certain areas in the country is a wake-up call for Malaysians to brace for extreme weather.

The floods in the east coast and northern areas of the peninsula were expected, but it was out of the ordinary for the central region, said Centre for Environment, Technology and and Development Malaysia (Cetdem) executive director Anthony Tan.

He described the recent heavy rain in Kajang and parts of Klang Valley as the worst he had ever experienced in his life.

He said the recent extreme weather the country was facing was due to climate change.

"Malaysia has not seen the worst yet," he said, referring to typhoons and floods which plague Bangladesh, Philippines and, of late, Thailand yesterday.

Tan said climate changes had affected rainfall patterns.

"The movie The Day After Tomorrow is a mild indicator as to what may happen next as extreme weather events are happening more frequently with devastating effect.

"Many development projects are being carried out from Port Klang to Gombak, and when it rains, drains would be clogged, thus triggering flash floods," he said.

"It is a wake-up call to local councils to make sure the drainage system is clean and clear," he said, adding that the country needs to invest in a proper drainage system.

The environment expert said proper planning in building construction was vital to prevent flash floods as low-lying lands would be more susceptible, leading to flash floods.

"We have to change the way we operate and construct buildings.

"The rumah Melayu was built on stilts for a reason. You won't be much affected by the floods and can tie your boat to the stilts. It's practical," he said.

"It is also a matter of land use and choosing where and how to have development projects, especially when it comes to low-lying areas."

He said Malaysians should understand the concept of global warming and climate change by now and prepare themselves for it.

Tan called on Malaysians not to panic at the current extreme weather pattern as it was a normal occurrence during the monsoon season.

A check at the National Security Council website saw the agency place Ledang (Johor), Manjung (Perak), Alor Gajah (Malacca), Sri Aman and Betong (Sarawak) on the flood watch list.

As of 4pm yesterday, flood victims at relief centres stood at 69 for Perak, followed by Johor (47), Malacca (19) and Sarawak (125).

Only two two relief centres are operating in Ledang, Johor, and one relief centre each in Alor Gajah, Malacca; Manjung, Perak and Sri Aman (Sarawak).

Brace for bad weather
New Straits Times 8 Dec 11;

KUALA LUMPUR: Winds over 60kph and waves more than 5.5 metres are expected to hit the east coast of the peninsula and the shores of Sabah and Sarawak, according to the Malaysian Meteoreological Department (MMD).

The areas affected include the waters off Pahang, East Johor, Sarawak, Tioman, Bunguran, Condore, Reef North, Reef South and Layang-Layang.

The MMD has issued a "category three" strong wind and rough seas warning for these areas -- an upgrade from the less severe second category announced late last month.

These conditions were expected to continue until Tuesday.

The MMD also upgraded a first category warning issued on Nov 28 to the second category for the waters off Kelantan, Terengganu, Labuan, Sabah (West Coast and Kudat), Samui and Palawan with strong northeasterly winds of 50 to 60kph and 4.5-metre high waves which were expected to occur until Tuesday.

Workers on oil platforms, fishermen and ferry and small boat operators have been advised to exercise caution due to the high waves, which were significantly higher than the usual ones which rise to a maximum of 2.5m during calm weather.

On land, floods may occur in Tumpat, Kota Baru, Bachok, Pasir Puteh, Machang and Pasir Mas districts in Kelantan and Besut, Setiu and Kuala Terengganu districts in Terengganu due to intermittent rains which were forecast to start over these areas from Friday until Saturday.

Prof Dr P. Agamuthu, a sustainable environmental management expert, said the emission of carbon dioxide from regional countries had had an effect on Malaysia's weather.

Malaysians, he said, needed to start reducing their carbon footprint and increase vegetation in the city.

"Everything boils down to global warming," he said, adding that the side effects included abnormal weather patterns.

"The direction of the monsoon has also shifted. A few weeks ago there was heavy flooding in Perlis and now the heavy rains have moved to the north-east side."