Blame game begins over floods in Penang

The floods in Penang have forced residents in the capital, George Town, to get around by boat (above) and caused a road at Batu Ferringhi to collapse (below). The federal and state governments blame each other for not preventing the flooding.
The floods in Penang have forced residents in the capital, George Town, to get around by boat (above) and caused a road at Batu Ferringhi to collapse. The federal and state governments blame each other for not preventing the flooding.PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK
The floods in Penang have forced residents in the capital, George Town, to get around by boat (above) and caused a road at Batu Ferringhi to collapse (below). The federal and state governments blame each other for not preventing the flooding.
The floods in Penang have forced residents in the capital, George Town, to get around by boat and caused a road at Batu Ferringhi to collapse (above). The federal and state governments blame each other for not preventing the flooding.PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

KUALA LUMPUR • Floods in Penang over the past week have become a political issue, with the opposition-led state government and the federal government bickering over whether they could have been prevented.

Members of the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition have blamed the state government for not improving drainage, but the Penang government led by the Democratic Action Party said the floods were caused by incomplete federal government projects to mitigate flooding.

Heavy rain has inundated many parts of Penang over the past few days, with landslides blocking roads and a road serving beachside hotels in Batu Ferringhi collapsing.

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said the flash floods would not recur "so long as the federal government completes its flood mitigation project that is way overdue".

But Natural Resources and Environment Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said the state government and Penang town councils - which are all run by the opposition alliance that controls Penang - should have deepened the drainage system.

"The state government should have considered sustainable development instead of banking on profits from development projects," Datuk Seri Junaidi was reported by the New Straits Times as saying.

"They could have also used the profits from the development to draw up and implement their own flood mitigation plan instead of pointing fingers at the government."

The federal government had set aside RM150 million (S$49 million) for a flood mitigation project on Penang's main river, he said.

A phase of this project suffered delays because the city council had to remove squatters from the riverbank, the Free Malaysia Today news site reported.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 10, 2016, with the headline 'Blame game begins over floods in Penang'. Print Edition | Subscribe