The bad and ugly of Terengganu

(Harakah Daily) ARSHAD KHAN takes his lens to Terengganu, and gets a close-up of what was once the pride of this oil-rich state. Today, this white elephant rests in an ocean of debris and a perfect place for mosquitos.

Have politics and government inefficiency penetrated sports too? For RM270 million, is that what Malaysian taxpayers get, a collapsed complex that might have to be restored with an almost equal amount of expenditure?

Above: The entrance to the pride of the oil-rich state

Below: Land claimed from coastal swamp

Luckily there was no fatality. The cost for this complex was given by the authorities but there is no transparency. Who verified the accounts? Maybe a RM2 company of the ‘Ali Baba’ type.

This largest sports stadium in the state, named after Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin, is also called Terengganu Sports Complex. It is located near Seberang Takir, on the northern flank of an army camp by the coast of the South China Sea. It takes about 20 minutes from Kota Baru and branches off eastwards on the way to the state’s airport.

The visit by this writer was sometime around a motorcycle race tournament in late June 2010. Facilities for motorcycles, car racing and other parts within the complex could not be utilised as it was sealed off. Security was completely slack.

Land land everywhere, not a single squarefoot is used.

I am aware that the disastrous collapse was reported earlier by the media but many did not give a clear picture, literally, of the damaged building, and what triggered the newly constructed complex to collapse like a pack of cards. It was a calamity in waiting, fortunately not when spectators were watching a sports event or with some VIPs in the grand stand; heads would have rolled in that state.

Like a pack of cards…. Pride or shame?

How could such a collapse occur? Are Malaysian engineers so inept in calculating the strength of supporting structures?

It seems that those in authority or power just closed one or both eyes and then the builders just danced with them. Malaysian engineers and other qualified personnel together with those with decades of experience in administration could not estimate the strength of buildings against exceptionally strong open sea winds. The mangled structure can tell many defects. Was this part of a cover up by the investigating body?

What about the ground on which buildings are built? In this case, it was coastal swamp but was filled with soil from some poor mountains or hills whose forests were ripped off. Forget about the directive by the every incoming prime minister that no land should be filled; but who cares so long some vested interests are taken care of?

Barren… Not a desert, but in tropical Terengganu.

The complex is subject to flooding as the land on which it was built would sink and settle. Do the authorities know what is the time frame for the soil to settle before building anything on it? Of course not! Why? Because the faster you complete the project, the better vested interests are satisfied, the less the people would know and oppose.

The beauty about Malaysians is that they would not give two hoots, until something happens to awaken them so that they grope for answers and grumble away.

Developments are decided by politicians without any study on viability for any economical or social benefit. This huge complex now collapsed is a lame white elephant void of any maintenance on the undamaged sections, the compound and its surroundings.

The monsoon drains are heavily clogged with silt, overgrown with weeds, plants and of course the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes. Why bother to maintain whatever is left of it? Anyway, it would be cleared by the same contractor, possibly under a new name.

Filth… Another farm for mosquitos

It is clear that no EIA had been performed. This coastal swamp harboured a variety of ‘gelam’ trees (the bark of which is used for boat building and other equipments for sealing out water), fauna and flora. I was told this area had flourished in ‘fighting’ fish, frogs and birds.

Forget about losing meagre subsidies or collective development; save it for collapsed mega projects (more to come), white elephants, exorbitant government expenditure and leakages.

It is may be true after all. Malaysia will be bankrupt soon like Greece which also spent on useless military ware purchased by politicians, complete with leakages, corruption, government inefficiency and wastage in political antagonism.