Tremors and good vibrations


As a Sabahan born and bred, it gives me no small sense of pride that the people of my state did not wait for any “official” order to spring into action.

(Malay Mail Online) – I’m going to start by putting this out straight off: What happened in the district of Ranau in my home state of Sabah last Friday was terrible.

The deaths caused by the earthquake are senseless, no matter how you look at it.

But nobody could have predicted that such a natural disaster would strike, even if it is known at least among geologists and similar professionals that Mount Kinabalu sits on tectonic plates that are not exactly stable.

Over the next few days, the world bore witness to the unfolding tragedy, but at the same time saw the heroism of ordinary Malaysians in one of the country’s most developmentally backwards states.

People of the highland district selflessly stepped up to lead rescue efforts, as the authorities did what they could to organise themselves to deal with a catastrophe that is just not something they are equipped to handle.

As a Sabahan born and bred, it gives me no small sense of pride that the people of my state did not wait for any “official” order to spring into action, guiding those who were stranded near the summit down to safety and averting a worse outcome if they had stayed put — only to deal with hunger, dehydration and hypothermia.

The mountain guides — a hardy bunch who typically earn their living by bringing tourists, or literally anything they can carry on their backs, safely up and down the iconic mountain — showed the sort of leadership in a crisis that multi-national companies yearn for at every turn.

Could I say the same, however, for those who were supposed to provide that sort of leadership over the past weekend?

I will refrain from naming names.

What I will say, though, is that there is no place for superstition and absentee pronouncements in dealing with a situation that has sound and measurable science to provide an explanation as to why it happened.

From a flight of swallows to a rail line in the Middle East, all this proved was that those put in a position of leadership have failed to figure out how they should manage their priorities.

Yes, it is disrespectful to local customs to strip butt naked in a place that is revered by the natives as the resting place of their ancestors.

Yes, it is important that a government-linked company secured a major contract in a very rich foreign country, since it would help bolster the nation’s coffers.

But none of this matters when lives have been lost.

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