GEOGRAPHY, WEATHER AND FLOODS IN MALAYSIA

LAND AND GEOGRAPHY OF MALAYSIA

Malaysia is located in Southeast Asia. Most of its land area is contained in two noncontiguous regions separated by about 530 kilometers of the South China Sea. One region is Peninsular Malaysia, which is bordered by Thailand to the north, the Strait of Malacca to the west, the Johore Strait to the south, and the South China Sea to the east. The other region, sometimes called East Malaysia, is the northern one third of the island of Borneo that is composed of two states, Sabah and Sarawak. The Kingdom of Brunei and the Indonesian territory of Kalimantan make up the rest of Borneo. Malaysia also encompasses many small islands, the largest of which is Labuan, off the coast of Sabah.

Peninsular Malaysia occupies the southern 600 kilometers or so of the Malaysian Peninsula on the southern tip of the Southeast Asian mainland. About 40 percent of Malaysia's land area is in Peninsular Malaysia (known in the old days as Malaya) and 60 percent is in Borneo. Together Peninsular Malaysia and Malaysian Borneo cover an area of 329,758 square kilometers (127,316 square miles), which is slightly larger than New Mexico or Norway, with 131,598 square kilometers in Peninsular Malaysia and 198,160 square kilometers in Sabah and Sarawak. Malaysia ranks 67th in the world in terms of size.

According to an estimate from 2001, 5.5 percent of Malaysia’s land is categorized as arable, 17.6 percent is covered by permanent crops, and the remaining 76.9 percent categorized as “other.” Cleared land exists only in major settlement areas along the coast or on the banks of rivers for differing distances inland. Much cleared land has been used for palm and rubber tree plantations. Most of this arable land is located near the coasts of peninsular Malaysia and is covered with rubber and palm plantations. Malaysia is a leading exporter of rubber and palm oil.

The interior of peninsular Malaysia is rich in plant and animal species. Numerous rivers and mountains create natural boundaries that promote local diversity. Rivers in Sarawak and Sabah also provide transportation routes. About 60 percent of the land is covered by dense rain forest (down from nearly 90 percent 50 years ago), but this figure get smaller everyday as lumber companies cut down tropical hardwoods and land is cleared for palm oil plantations.

Malaysia is strategically located along Strait of Malacca and southern South China Sea, through much of the shipping between East Asia and Europe and the Middle East passes. The topography of Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah, and Sarawak is generally coastal plains with hills and mountains in the interior. Malaysia’s lowest elevation is sea level along the coasts, and the highest is Gunung Kinabalu in northern Sabah at 4,100 meters. In 2005 forests covered approximately 64 percent of the country’s total land area.

Peninsular Malaysia is bordered by Thailand to the north, the South China Sea to the east, and the Andaman Sea and the Straits of Malacca to the west. Singapore is connected to the southern tip of the peninsula by a causeway. The Indonesia island of Sumatra is separated from from the western side of the Malaysian peninsula by the 890-kilometer-long Straits of Malacca, one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes. The western side of the peninsula is marshy, the eastern side is sandy. A central mountain range runs from north to south through the middle of the peninsula.

Sabah and Sarawak occupy the northern portion of Borneo (the third largest island in the world after Greenland and New Guinea). , which is situated across the South China Sea about 400 miles from peninsualr Malaysia. The Indonesia's province of Kalimantan occupies the southern two thirds of Borneo. Brunei is on the north coast of Borneo. Sabah and Sarawak have wide, marshy coastal plains and rain-forest-covered mountains in their interior. The roads on Borneo are poor. Most people get around by plane or river and ocean boats.

Malaysia's boundaries were only set in the 1960s. Malaysia’s land boundaries total 2,669 kilometers. There is one land boundary on the peninsula, a 506-kilometer border with Thailand. On Borneo, Malaysia has a 381-kilometer border with Brunei and a 1,782-kilometer border with Indonesia. Malaysia’s total coastline is 4,675 kilometers in length: 2,068 kilometers for Peninsular Malaysia and 2,607 kilometers for East Malaysia. Major Rivers: Malaysia’s principal rivers are the Kinabatangan (564 kilometers in length), Rajang (560 kilometers), Pahang (434 kilometers), Baram (400 kilometers), Lupar (230 kilometers), and Limbang (196 kilometers). Major Cities: (estimated population in 1991): Kuala Lumpur (the capital), 1,000,000; Penang (Georgetown), Malacca, Kuching, Kota Kinabalu.

Weather in Malaysia

The weather almost everywhere in Malaysia is almost always hot and humid. Air conditioning is virtually a necessity. Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak are just north of the equator (no part of Malaysia is more than 8 degrees from the equator) and have a hot and humid climate the entire year.

Peninsular Malaysia and East Malaysia (Sabah and Sarawak on Borneo) are subject to the same movement of air masses and have similar climates. Temperatures and precipitation vary by elevation and proximity to the sea, but temperatures tend to be uniform year-round with annual average temperatures ranging from 23º C to 34º C. Rainfall is heavy with annual southwest monsoons from April to October and northeast monsoons from October to February. Total annual rainfall ranges from 130 to 470 centimeters in East Malaysia and from 140 to 400 centimeters on the peninsula. Humidity is also high; mean relative humidity ranges from 80 to 90 percent. The only relief is air conditioned buildings, which are plentiful. The days and nights are somewhat cooler in the highlands and coastal areas with ocean breezes.

There are two major seasons—the hot dry season and the rainy monsoon season—but the times of these seasons varies from place to place because western Peninsular Malaysia, eastern Peninsular Malaysia, and Borneo are all influenced by different monsoon wind patterns: annual southwest (April to October) and northeast (October to February) monsoons.

Most parts of Malaysia receive over 100 inches (250 centimeters) of rain a year. The northeast monsoon brings rain in the winter months and southeast monsoon brings rain in the summer months. The interior of peninsular Malaysia receives rain from both systems and essentially can receive rain at any time. Monsoon floods often hit Malaysia in December. Rains tend to fall in short afternoon downpours during the rainy season. The countryside is lush and green and beautiful but the jungles are full of leeches and dirt roads in remote areas become impassable. In the dry season, road travel is easier but the countryside is often brown and dusty.

On the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia, the rainy monsoon season is from April to October and the dry, hot season is from November to March. On the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia and in Sarawak on Borneo the rainy monsoon season is from October to February and dry hot season is from March to September. In Sabah, there are two rainy seasons May to October and November to April, with a dry season of only a few weeks when the winds change direction. Rainfall totals between 254 and 520 centimeters a year. In comparison, the rainy seasons in Vietnam, Cambodia and Burma, are from May to October and the rainy season in Singapore, and Indonesia are roughly from October to March.Malaysia is not hit very often by typhoons because it lies south of the typhoon belt.

El Nino and La Nina in Malaysia

El Nino brings drought to Malaysia and Indonesia and elsewhere in the western Pacific. A severe drought in the late 1990s caused by El Nino depleted water reserves and left 2 million people without a regular water supply for months. Residents in some places were forced to ration water and middle-class families collected water like the poor and carried buckets to their homes.

Heavy rains in 1999 and 2000 were attributed to the "La Nina" effect. "Unusually heavy rains over the past two years in Thailand and the rest of south-east Asia were the result of the reverse of El Nino - La Nina," Wanchai Sarathulthat, head of Thailand's Meteorological Department, told Reuters. "Several international weather forecasters expect La Nina to end in the Pacific by June." While El Nino caused warming of the Pacific Ocean off South America, La Nina has the opposite effect. [Source: BBC, November 24, 2000]

2004 Tsunami and Malaysia

Malaysia was largely spared from the December 2004 tsunami in part because the earthquake that generated the tsunami was on the west side of Sumatra and Malaysia lies on the east side of Sumatra, largely protected from the tsunami by Sumatra itself. Still 68 people died in Malaysia, with Penang Island off the northeast coast being one of the worst hit places. Most of the dead were in Penang. The tsunami struck some beachfront where hotels were located but the hotels were undamaged. Parts of Malaysia were close to the epicenter of the quake but Sumatra sheltered Malaysia from the tsunami.

Reporting from Penang, Wong Chun Wai wrote in The Star: Shortly after noon, a tremor hit Penang, sending workers of Komtar running out of their offices in panic. The 30-second tremor was caused by an earthquake in West Sumatra. It shook furniture and rattled the window panes of Komtar, which was then still under construction. It had reached the 60th storey, with five more storeys to go before it was completed. For many Penangites, who work in high-rise buildings, the “dizzy spell” after each tremor, has always been a laughing matter. Perhaps, even a good time-off from their mundane office work at each evacuation. [Source: Wong Chun Wai, The Star (Malaysia), December 28, 2004]

“But on Sunday, it was not just another tremor but a fatal disaster. Penangites and holiday makers, who were at the coastal areas, saw a killer tidal wave. For many, they also learnt a new word---tsunami. Tsunami (pronounced “soo nahm’ee) is a Japanese word which means harbour wave. A former schoolmate, Chun Wah, who stayed near Batu Ferringhi, where the beach hotels are located, had messaged me early on Sunday alerting me of what was taking place on the island. Providing detailed accounts of the tidal waves, he said he heard wailing sirens from speeding ambulances. They were bad signs. By the end of the day, 38 were reported dead. In the confusion that reigned, there were conflicting figures, but the authorities, unprepared for the disaster, did a good job dealing with the disaster at hand. [Ibid]

“So close is Penang island to Aceh, there used to be an Acehnese settlement on the island and a road, aptly called Lebuh Acheh, which is just a short distance away from the pier, where Indonesian traders used to land... Datuk Seri Kamal Hashim, the regional director of The Star, said he was at his beach apartment with his family at the time of the disaster. Just shortly before the waves came crushing to the shore, he had ordered his grandchildren to return to the apartment. “It was too hot and I told them to have lunch first. It was a lucky thing because I then heard the thundering sound of the waves. From my balcony, we watched clearly the waves which came literally to attack the beach.”We saw panicking picnickers running away while some just stood, dumbfounded, looking at the incoming waves. Some was seen diving into the water desperately searching for their loved ones who were missing,” he said. [Ibid]

“As I drove around the disaster-hit areas of Gurney Drive, Batu Ferringhi, Teluk Bahang and Tanjung Tokong, it was almost impossible to believe that a huge tidal wave had caused undue damage to these areas. The debris in these areas had been cleared and the streets cleaned up quickly. One unkind joke circulating on the island is that nature had decided to clean up the state, which had suffered some bad press for the sad state of affairs. [Ibid]

“Near Chulia Street, there was no shortage of Penangites who wanted to share their experiences---or the tales they had heard---with me. One told me that the tidal waves were as “high as a coconut tree”. Gesturing excitedly as he narrated his experiences to me, the municipal council worker, who had supposedly gone fishing at the time of the incident, then took a look at my notes and told me to make a correction. “Make it two coconut trees high,” he said with a straight face. [Ibid]

Landslides Bury Malaysian Orphanage, Killing at Least 16

Landslides occur from time to time in Malaysia, especially during periods of heavy rain. In May 2011 CNN reported: “Rescue workers were looking for at least a dozen children reported missing following two landslides that buried a Malaysian orphanage, killing at least 16 people and injuring nine others, the nation's official news agency reported. Rescue workers scoured the area for up to two dozen children believed buried in the landslides that hit the orphanage near Hulu Langat, southeast of the capital city of Kuala Lumpur, the Bernama news agency said. It was not immediately clear how many of the 16 killed were children. Earlier reports said the bodies of at least five children, between the ages of 11 and 14, were pulled from the debris. [Source: CNN Wire Staff, May 22, 2011 +++]

“Eight children, between the ages of 11 and 17, and a 22-year-old adult were pulled out alive from the debris by rescue workers and villagers, Selangor Police Chief Datuk Tun Hisan Tun Hamzah said at a news conference late Saturday. But rescue workers were still searching for dozens missing, the police chief said. The landslides, which were triggered by heavy rains Saturday, struck the orphanage at about 2:30 p.m., while many of its 49 male residents, including five adults, were outside setting up tents on the hillside for an outdoor event later in the day, the police chief said. "We understand that two landslides occurred within seconds of each other. All of them in the camp were trapped," Tun Hisan said. +++

“Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said he "instructed relevant authorities to investigate the cause of the mishap," the news agency said. A nearby mosque was also struck by the landslides, though it was not immediately known whether there was anybody in the building at the time. There were conflicting reports about the number of children in the area at the time of the landslides. The prime minister's wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, told the news agency that about 70 children were believed to have been sent to orphanage to attend a "Teaching In English" program and "that some of them were victims." +++

Malaysia Bans Hillside Developments after Landslide

In December 2008, the Malaysian government banned hillside developments after a weekend landslide in suburban Kuala Lumpur killed four people and forced thousands to evacuate. "I am sure this will incur the wrath of individual land owners and developers but enough is enough," Prime Minister Abdullah said, according to Sunday's Star, ordering current projects to be frozen while soil tests are carried out. "Future projects will also not go on to prevent any further worsening of the soil conditions at the hilly area," he told the daily after a series of landslides in northeastern Kuala Lumpur. [Source: AFP, December 7, 2008 /=/]

AFP reported: “The latest disaster hit early Saturday, burying 14 houses at the upmarket estate of Bukit Antarabangsa, cutting off access for thousands of residents and disrupting water, electricity and phone lines. Among the four dead was a 20-year-old who was found by his father buried under the rubble still clutching a mobile phone, the Star reported. One person is reportedly still missing. Police ordered 3,000 to 5,000 residents living nearby to evacuate their homes. /=/

The landslide occurred after days of heavy rains in the area, which is prone to slippages. In 2006 four people were killed and 43 homes destroyed in a nearby suburb. And in 1993 a landslide triggered by heavy rains caused a 12-storey condominium tower, the Highland Towers, to collapse, killing 48 people. /=/

"Malaysians never want to learn from past experiences. They want good views while developers only seek to profit ... no one takes safety and soil stability into consideration," the prime minister said. "We will be courting more tragedies if we do not care and protect hillsides," he said. Opposition parliamentarian Lim Kit Siang accused the government of "sheer criminal negligence" over the incident. He said in a statement that officials bore responsibility for "closing an eye to dangerous hillside developments and in totally ignoring the lessons of the Highland Towers tragedy 15 years ago." Selangor police chief Khalid Abu Bakar ordered residents from a condominium tower located near the landslide site to evacuate immediately, fearing it "may collapse at any time," the state Bernama news agency reported. /=/

Floods in Malaysia

Monsoon floods often hit Malaysia in November and December. In November 2000, the BBC reported: Torrential monsoon rains have continued to pour in parts of Malaysia and Thailand, causing severe disruptions to transport and services. In north-east Malaysia, floods have killed at least 12 people, forced more than 8,000 people out of their homes, submerged rail and road links and disrupted communications. Across the border in southern Thailand, the situation was also severe, with at least 11 dead. [Source: BBC, November 24, 2000]

“Train services to many north-east Malaysian states were cancelled, and at least one flight to Kota Baru, the state capital of Kelantan, forced to turn back. Dozens of cars have been swept away in Terengganu Thousands have taken shelter in schools and community halls. Among the latest victims were a housewife and her eight-year-old son, in Besut, Terengganu who were electrocuted when the woman tried to repair a water pump. Monsoon rains in the north-east normally start in mid-November and end in March. There are fears that the disaster will damage the rubber and palm oil crops. [Ibid]

In December 2004, at least eleven people have perished and more than 10,000 have been evacuated in the worst flooding to hit Malaysia in over a decade. The hardest hit areas are along the east coast of peninsular Malaysia in the states of Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang. The city of Kota Baru was particularly hard hit. For Malaysia, December is part of the northeast monsoon. Prevailing northeasterly winds flow across the South China Sea bringing in abundant moisture. Typically, during the northeast monsoon, heavy rain events lasting on the order of a few days are common. The prevailing winds can interact with the topography squeezing out the moisture. [Source: NASA, December 13, 2004 ]

Floods in Malaysia in December 2006

Severe floods struck southern Peninsular Malaysia in December 2006 and January 2007. In late December, S. Kanaraju of Associated Press wrote: “Seven people have died and more than 90,000 have been displaced during the last week as the country recorded heavy rainfall, officials said, “There were nearly 74,000 evacuees in public shelters in the southern state of Johor bordering Singapore, 12,650 in neighboring Malacca state, and 5,100 in eastern Pahang state, said an official at the police Internal Security and Public Order Division. All seven people reported dead were in Johor, said the official. The most rain to fall during a 24-hour period in the last week was 16 inches Monday in Segamat town in central Johor, according to the New Straits Times newspaper. [Source: S. Kanaraju, Associated Press, December 23, 2006]

AFP reported: “Police in Johor have deployed up to 400 personnel to ensure security, adding that no new arrests had been made following earlier reports of looting in flood-affected areas. "We have heard of crocodile sightings. We urge the public to remain cautious," he said. National utility giant Tenaga Nasional Bhd has warned that thousands of households would have to go without electricity for months as flood waters have damaged substations. A total of 788 substations, mainly in Johor, have been closed down since Sunday, affecting some 75,000 households, it said. "The flood is the worst experience by TNB over the last 30 years," Che Khalib Mohamad Noh was quoted as saying by the Star newspaper Monday. Other states hit by the floods are Malacca, Pahang and Terengganu.[Source: AFP, December 26, 2006]

In another district of Muar in Johor, villagers have reported sighting crocodiles that have escaped from a farm after it was flooded. Ishak Abu Bakar, local village chief said between 15 and 20 crocodiles were believed to have escaped. In neighbouring Segamat, relief workers are struggling to bring food supplies to stranded families as many parts of the district are cut off by the floods, the New Straits Times reported. Martin Param Ponniah, deputy commander of the Johor St. John's Ambulance, said the food situation was critical in several remote villages, adding that some flood relief centres had been without food or drinks for several days.

A flood victim in Johor seeking shelter at a relief centre broke down in tears when asked to explain her ordeal. "What are we going to do now? We have lost everything. My children ... they need to go to school but they have lost all their books. The water rose so fast. I just managed to escape with my children," she said in an interview with TV3, a private television station.

Pravda reported: “Heavy rains and overflowing rivers have flooded hundreds of towns and villages in southern Malaysia, killing two people and displacing more than 60,000, officials said. The two deaths were the first since Sunday, when torrential downpours caused rivers and dams to overflow in the states of Johor, Malacca, Pahang and Negeri Sembilan. The floods have destroyed crops and cut off roads, power lines and rail services. Two men were found dead by an army rescue team in Johor.

The Drainage and Irrigation Department has described the flooding as the worst in Johor in a century. Johor opened nearly 300 flood relief centers on high ground to house 53,000 residents evacuated from their homes across all eight districts, Che Moin said. In the other three states, more than 7,500 people were forced to leave their homes. Che Moin said the government will allocate money to help flood victims, although the amount has yet to be announced. Last December, 100 million ringgit (US$29.2 million; ?22.1 million) in aid was given to help victims of the monsoon in northern Malaysia.

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi "has asked us to expedite all assistance to the victims," Che Moin said, adding that relief teams were flying food and other supplies from Kuala Lumpur to areas largely cut off by the floods. Utility company Tenaga Nasional turned off 236 power distribution stations in Johor "for safety and security reasons," spokesman Sidek Kamisul said, "because a water and electricity mix is such a bad idea."

Singapore recorded at 366 millimeters (14.41 inches) of rain in 24 hours--- its third highest rainfall in 75 years, according to local media. The downpour caused floods and small mudslides in the north and center of the island, but no casualties were reported. Johor's farmers estimated losses of crops, fertilizer and machinery worth millions of ringgit, which could cause a spike in vegetable prices, according to the Malaysian Vegetable Farmers Association. The local farms supply Johor's markets and export to Singapore, reports AP. [Source: Pravda.Ru, December 21, 2006]

Disease Concerns During Floods in Malaysia in January 2007

In January 2007, second wave of floods battered southern Malaysia in the 2006-2007 winter monsoon season. Associated Press reported: More than 90,000 people have been evacuated from southern Malaysia, with one town almost entirely inundated leaving only rooftops poking above floodwaters in some areas, officials and news reports said. The fresh floods in southern Johor state came after many people had returned home from the public shelters they had moved to in late December, when heavy rains caused major rivers to overflow, killing at least 17 people, blocking roads and railway lines and disrupting power supplies. A Johor police official said incessant heavy rains since Thursday night forced the evacuation of 92,500 people to 355 relief centers. No casualties have been reported in the state, the official said. The Meteorological Department, in a red alert warning on its Web site, said the heavy rain was expected to continue. The red alert is the highest of a three stage warning system issued by the Meteorological Department, and signals heavy monsoon rains and floods. [Source: AP, January 15, 2007]

Jalil Hamid of Reuters reported from Seri Medan, Malaysia: “Fears of disease gripped Malaysia's flood-devastated south on Monday and more than 100,000 evacuees were crammed into emergency shelters. Two people have died from leptospirosis, caused by exposure to water contaminated with the urine of animals such as rats, bringing the death toll from the worst floods in nearly 40 years to 15. Health workers planned to step up inoculations against typhoid and fumigate mosquito-prone areas to guard against diseases such as dengue fever and malaria. Warnings have also been issued about cholera. [Source: Jalil Hamid, Reuters, January 15, 2007 ||||]

“Education Minister Hishammuddin Hussein told the Sun mobile phone news service that 106 schools in the hardest-hit state of Johor had been shut and would be used as relief centers. More than 40 schools were already inundated, the report added. Tens of thousands of victims also faced food shortages following the return of heavy monsoon rains to southern states after last month's severe flooding. "We are in grave need of food supplies," Welfare Minister Shahrizat Jalil said. There were also reported cases of looting from abandoned homes, officials said. ||||

Abdul Latif Sapri, a truck driver, and his family have been taking shelter at a relief camp for the past 26 days after floods swept through their riverside house last month. The 55-year-old, who has been having sleepless nights from the flood trauma, says he is uncertain about his future. "I'm puzzled why this is happening to me," Latif said in a crowded badminton hall-turned-relief center in Seri Medan, a rural town in Johor. ||||

“Residents in Seri Medan said there was at least one case of malaria as well as several cases of jaundice. "A 40-year-old Malay woman is in hospital with malaria," Abdul Latif, the flood victim, said. Health department deputy chief Ramlee Rahmat warned the public not to play in dirty flood water and to wear clothes that covered their bodies to prevent them from becoming infected. "But we are more concerned about food and water-borne diseases such as typhoid and cholera because those can spread fast. We are monitoring the situation," Ramlee told Reuters. The symptoms of leptospirosis include diarrhea, vomiting and kidney or liver problems. ||||

“The government said many people, who had returned home after the first floods, refused to leave home again. "I cannot stress the urgency of evacuation enough," said Johor Chief Minister Abdul Ghani Othman. "The longer people opt to stay in their flooded homes, the higher the chances of facing the threat of attacks and diseases from animals," he said. ||||

“The latest floods cut off several towns in Johor, which is a major oil palm and rubber growing region, and shut down power and water supplies. Johor is just across a narrow strait from Singapore, which has also been hit by days of heavy rain. The damage bill from last month's floods, which also displaced more than 100,000 people, was estimated at more than 100 million ringgit ($28 million). Flood victims in Johor complained of inadequate supplies and cash aid. "We don't have blankets, mattresses, pillows, soaps, infant's milk at this relief center," said Mohamad Jamian, 57, who is taking refuge at a school. "We have not seen the 500 ringgit promised by the government. But there are a lot of mosquitoes." ||||

Malaysian Floods in Late 2007, 2009 and 2012

In December 2007, Reuters reported: “Floods in Malaysia have killed 12 people and left more than 20,000 homeless, and more rain is expected, which could push up food and palm oil prices in one of the world's top growers. The monsoon rains have cut off roads in several states including Kelantan and Terengganu in the east and Johor in the south, local media reported. The Meteorological Department has forecast more heavy rain. Johor was the worst hit, with 13,000 residents fleeing to higher ground, the New Straits Times reported on Thursday. The state is a major oil palm and rubber growing region and a key source of vegetables and poultry. Plantation officials say heavy rains have slowed down harvest and transportation of palm oil. Some economists warn the floods could also drive up food prices, similar to the situation early this year when the country was hit by the worst floods in nearly 40 years. [Source: Reuters, December 12, 2007]

In January 2009, Associated Press reported: “Malaysian police say monsoon rains have led to worsening floods in eastern Sarawak state on Borneo island, forcing more than 7,000 residents to be evacuated. Terrence Oliver, Sarawak's police chief of operations, says 7,042 people have been moved to evacuation centers after their homes were flooded over the weekend. He said the rains have stopped for now but high tides may sweep inland, causing flooding rivers to rise further and inundate low-lying areas. Extensive thunderstorms and flooding are common in eastern Malaysia during the annual monsoon season between November and February. [Source: AP, January 12, 2009]

Around the same time, AFP reported: “Floods in central and northern Malaysia have forced the evacuation of nearly 3,000 people, with dozens of relief centres set up to shelter those displaced, state media say. Two landslides have also occurred in the Cameron Highlands, a popular tourist destination and tea-growing area, a spokesman for the Pahang police flood operations room said.The state Bernama news agency quoted the spokesman as saying that roads closed by the landslide had now been cleared of debris and reopened to traffic. With Malaysia's rainy season in full swing, some 2,514 people have been evacuated in central Pahang state, and 26 relief centres set up, the spokesman added. In northern Terengganu state, some 471 people have been evacuated and three relief centres set up after several villages were inundated, Bernama reported. [Source: AFP, January 4, 2009]

In December 2012, UPI reported: “Severe flooding in Malaysia has killed six people, including five children 15 or younger, and displaced more than 20,000 others, police said. Most of the fatalities came as children worked or played around swollen waterways in the island nation. A 6-year-old boy drowned while trying to help his father fix a torn fishing net in Kampung Kederang about 1 a.m., The Star of Bernama said. A 14-year-old died when he slipped into a flooded canal in Kampung Kebor Besar, Manir. In Kemaman, two teens ages 14 and 15 drowned while playing near floodwaters. The government said 9,600 flood relief centers have been opened in the province for residents whose homes are underwater. Residents in some areas were allowed to return home. [Source: UPI, December 27, 2012]

Image Sources:

Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, and various books, websites and other publications.

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© 2008 Jeffrey Hays

Last updated June 2015

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