"It's Not An Act Of God" - Penang Govt Slammed After 7th Landslide Victim Found Headless
A vigil was held yesterday, 21 October, for foreign workers who were killed in a landslide at Bukit Kukus, Penang, last week
According to Free Malaysia Today, the group of locals behind the vigil claimed that the state government had ignored pleas to stop hillside development, which is believed to be the cause of the fatal landslide on 19 October.
New Straits Times reported that over 30 people attended the event with white flowers and candles.
A memorial was also set up for the victims, with each of their names and nationalities displayed on a piece of paper.
The event was held just as the seventh victim of the fatal landslide was found headless
The Star reported yesterday that the latest victim, Bangladeshi national Md Abdul Jalil, was found at about 4.50pm with his body separated from the head, buried 10 metres underground.
According to The Malaysian Insight, Penang Fire and Rescue Department chief Commissioner Saadon Mokhtar revealed that it is still unknown how many victims lie underground.
Two bodies were found last Friday shortly after the landslide happened, and another two were recovered on Saturday, 20 October.
Two more bodies, including the headless one, were discovered yesterday.
The vigil also remembered the 11 people who were killed by another landslide a year ago
On 21 October 2017, a 10-metre high hill slope in Tanjung Bungah came crashing down on 11 people at an under-construction apartment project.
According to New Straits Times, the sole Malaysian site supervisor at the time, Yuan Kuok Wern was also killed in the incident.
As a result of both landslides, attendees at the vigil have labeled the state as "Pulau Pinang Darul Bencana (tragedies)".
Activists slammed the state government for "uncontrolled development" that led to the tragedies
"We, the non-governmental organisations (NGO), have constantly been speaking up about the uncontrolled development but were labelled as 'troublemakers by the state government," David Giam, a family friend of Yuan, was quoted as saying by New Straits Times yesterday.
Giam added that the disasters were caused by one factor – "uncontrolled" hill slope development in Penang.
Another activist at the vigil, Lim Li Lian, delivered an emotional speech about the tragedies.
"They (state government) did nothing. Now all these people are dead. What about their children and wives? Do you know how it is to be a single parent?" she said yesterday.
"It seems like none of you (politicians) really care. Just busy posting pictures of site visits after tragedy struck," Lim argued.
According to Lim, local NGO Penang Hills Watch had just delivered a report on hill development to the state executive councillor Zairil Khir Johari last month. There were pictures of hills "where everything has been cut off".
"What did the contractors do? What did Zairil Khir Johari do? What did the Penang government do?" she asked.
"It (the landslide) is not an act of God. This is not the Sahara desert where it never rains," she added.