WE’RE familiar with disaster tourists and they are okay if they contribute in cash or kind and don’t obstruct work in progress. In fact we welcome them to observe the relief work being done.
They would also not miss the sight of the effect of people who donate irrelevant clothes and the fresh mess created after clothing bags have been picked through and the unwanted ones left as litter.
But now comes a worst type: celebrity seekers who claim the credit for other people’s volunteerism.
This happened on Thursday (Jan. 8) at the Sekolah Kebangsaan Kampung Panjang, Tanah Merah, Kelantan.
A team of red-shirted people drove in to a school on some 4×4 pick-ups that had already been 90 percent cleaned up by an earlier team of volunteers, the Land Rover Owners Club of Malaysia (LROM).
It seems that an UMNO VIP was scheduled to visit the school. The late comers’ information was accurate and when the Negri Sembilan MP turned up, they greeted him and presented the cleaned-up school as though it was their work.
Photos were taken by the accompanying media and if published, the outside world will think that the red-shirts associated with the VIP had cleaned the school.
Additionally, they left a mess of plastic packaging material and one of the more boisterous ones used the school padang to show off his drifting skills in his 4×4 pick-up.
“Our effort taken over by Red Team warriors,” complained Alyna Tai, the LROM’s secretary, in a whatsapp to Cars, Bikes & Trucks.
“The VIP was assigned this school to visit because we cleaned it and it’s one of the fastest to be cleaned because we had the equipment, the strategy, and the help of the school students
“They (the late comers) came and conquered. They even gave out red shirts. The only thing they did was to stand, waiting for the VIP,” Tai said.
“They really behaved in an unbecoming manner. They even laughed at me when I told them to clean up their own mess of plastic wrappers and discarded water cartons,” Tai said.
“Headmaster dan orang kampong pun malu (the headmaster and the village folk were embarrassed). Datang just nak ambil gambar sahaja (they just came for the photo opportunity),” added Azailudin Hamat, the LROM member who had sought the assistance of the club to clean the school.
The actual work to clean up the school took almost a week, from last Friday to Thursday. It was achieved jointly by the school’s students and teachers and the LROM team and its equipment – two water bowser trailers of 1,000 litres each, three water jets and a 6 kVA generator.
It all started when LROM member, Azailudin Hamat, got a distress call from his kampong friend who was the school headmaster.
The Kuala Krai flood had subsided and the school was caked with mud up to the first story ceiling. Could Azailuddin and his Land Rover friends from KL and Selangor help to clean up the school?
Azailudin contacted LROM president, Rate de Silva, who was keen to enter into action but wanted a specific target and task.
“We don’t want our LROM members to run around like headless chickens,” he said in an earlier discussion about what the LROM planned to do to help flood victims.
With Azailudin’s call for help, Rate, or popularly known as Atek, swung into action to meet the challenge of responding to a situation where there was no clean water and electricity.
Anticipating this when the scale of the floods was in the news, he had prepared and put on standby two water bowser trailers that were in his yard and also a 6kVA power generator set with power to spare for six industrial duty water jets.
With Tai rallying the troops, it was not difficult to round up enough volunteers and trucks to fill the five-car team on the school cleaning mission.
A member both of the LROM and also a committee member of the Pajero Club, Che Mat, 61, had to go back to Guchil 3 to help out his kampong folk.
He did more than that. With his friends and his five 4×4 truck team, they raised RM6,000 for a helicopter lift of 300kg of food to the Bukit Tujuh folk in Kelantan who had been marooned and running short of supplies.
With friends and friends of friends, they managed to get Wasco, a Kertih-based oil and gas contractor, to sponsor and mobilise a 40,000 litre per hour mobile water treatment plant to supply the Kuala Krai town folk when the flood had damaged the town’s water pump in Kampung Tualang, Kuala Krai.
As of Thursday, Kuala Krai was still suffering water supply problems according to State Public Works, Infrastructure, Utilities and Information Technology Committee chairman, Datuk Hanifa Ahmad.
“With the help of six technicians and one expert from Wasco, we operate the the water-treatment plant from 9am to 5pm or sometimes two more hours depending on demand,” said Che Mat, formerly an institutional broker for a Malaysian stock broker.
“We got permission from Jabatan Bekalan Air and all the relevant authorities to install the mobile water treatment plant at the former water treatment site beside Sungai Durian in Kuala Krai.
“Other areas to benefit from the water treatment plant are townships in the Felda Guchil 1 to Guchil 7.
“So far, we’ve used our own money to pay RM3,600 for the trailer, RM6,000 for the low-loader, and RM1,000 for the crane.
“We now need funds for the daily diesel consumption,” he said.
So if you’re interested in disaster tourism, it’s good if you come with cash or diesel to help the people’s heroes in Kuala Krai. For more information, call Che Mat at 012 263 7434.
Local Councils from Selangor with the assets have also swung in to help clear the flood debris from Kuala Krai town. Garbage collection trucks and teams from Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL), Ampang Jaya City Council (MPAJ), Shah Alam City Council (MBSA) and Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) were observed hauling the rubbish from the roadsides.