Sunday, December 16, 2007

SOS.... what is happening?

Communication of up-to-date information in a time of disaster is very crucial. It is the upmost importance for those affected, the people who are helping them and also to relay the extent of the disaster to the outside world.

In the modern world of telecommunications, there are various medias available for transmission of information to the masses. Television, radio, internet are amongst the most commonly accessed by the people. The first to are more readily available and accessible to the common people and therefore, should be the main source of information distribution.

Where am I getting to with all this?

For the past week, many states in Malaysia have been affected by heavy rain and floods. The situation is not as usual, yearly there are floods during the monsoon but this year it has been heavier and more severe. In the Pahang state, at one point nearly 28000 people were displaced. Some areas, like Jerantut and Bera were totally cut off when the main roads went under water. The whole state was put under red-alert when the Metrological Department predicts more rain to come.

For the layman like me, this means ‘impending’ disaster (to some in the relief centres it is already a disaster). And for us who are stuck but not yet displaced, hour-by-hour information on the situation is really important but are we getting any? For such a large scale problem the distribution of relevant information is sorely lacking. Apart from the 5 to 10 minute news on the local channels broadcasted at the usual Prime Time News nothing else was communicated. Some higher authority may argue, go to the local Flood Disaster Command Centre to get your up to date information. Well, that is beside the point.

This country has been gearing up its people to become a developed nation. It prides itself in having successfully organized the Commonwealth Games, the CHOGM meetings etc. How can one nation become a developed nation if basic communication and information dispersion cannot be achieved? What happened to the national TV, the ‘Saluran Inforia Anda’? Maybe, they only strive to give accurate and updated Entertainment Information to the masses.

RTM’s Client Charter taken from its website said:

“We pledge to ensure the standard of broadcasting is of the highest quality, in line with the government's policies and aspirations, to cater to the varied tastes of the society through: Up to date information ;programmes that are informative and educational; high quality entertainment programmes and to instill good values”

The channels (including the private stations) should have contingency plans on methods of information dispersion when such a disaster occurs. One just needs to have a continuous information tab at the bottom of the screen to display the latest news. They can do it for the elections so why not for this? This is their social obligation. Stop talking crap about giving rice to people or entertaining orphans during hari raya. This is supposed to be their forte, and thus their responsibility to the people and the Nation.

But then, perhaps I got it all wrong. Perhaps, since this situation occurred in Kelantan, Pahang and Johor where most of the affected are neither well-to-do nor educated, then it is not worth reporting. I guess only if it happens in Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur or Shah Alam where the educated, rich and powerful societies are residing then it warrants round the clock up-to-date information.

Looking just at this aspect, are we on the right track to becoming a developed nation?


najibest said...

well like u've said in a previous post..1st class infrastructure, 3rd world mentality n implementation. obviously distributing flood information is not a top priority for them..

john f seademon said...

Hey, sorry but floods in Temerloh is not as important as Cik Yah Ke Udara or Citarasa Kampung

Those you can get airtime sponsors...