Rainy weather leaves its mark on silver state


Fire and Rescue Department workers at the site of the landslide in Cameron Highlands.

THE monsoon season caused several landslides in Perak, including an incident at Section 27 of Jalan Simpang Pulai-Blue Valley on Dec 2, that saw two motorists buried under a mound of earth.

The road was closed for clean-up works and reopened about two weeks later.

In November, Jalan Tapah-Cameron Highlands between Batu 25 and Batu 26 was also closed temporarily due to landslides.

In September, heavy rain caused cracks to appear on the road at Section 44 of Jalan Simpang Pulai-Blue Valley.

Repair works are ongoing, with only one lane opened to traffic.

Following December’s landslide, the state Public Works Department (JKR) identified 14 major landslide-prone stretches from Simpang Pulai to Tapah heading to Cameron Highlands, and said that round-the-clock supervision would be conducted at some spots.

JKR deputy director Hamdan Ali said Perak had the most slopes after Pahang, and noted it was the first time in the 20 years since the Simpang Pulai road opened that there had been a landslide leading to fatalities.

Apart from landslides, the monsoon season also caused flash floods in several districts.

In January, nearly 900 villagers in Hilir Perak district were affected, while more than 500 people were evacuated in the Larut, Matang and Selama, Kerian, Kampar and Kinta districts in August.

As Klang Valley and several states were hit by the recent floods, people from Perak did not forget the victims.

Among those who answered the call for help were Ipoh City Council, political parties, non-governmental organisations and also individuals like insurance agent Thilaga Vengidesan, who held a donation drive with a group of friends near Ipoh Padang.

Covid-19 concerns

The state made headlines for having the first Omicron case in the country.

A genome sequencing test ran on samples taken from a 19-year-old private university student who had returned to Ipoh from South Africa through Singapore on Nov 19, confirmed the presence of the latest Covid-19 variant on Dec 2.

Throughout the year, several places in Perak were placed under enhanced movement control order, including the Kamunting Correctional Centre in Taiping, a workers’ dormitory in Anjung Tawas Damai and Taman Meru 2B in Ipoh, Bagan Serai sub-district and Kampung Gangai Orang Asli in Muallim.

Since the national Covid-19 Immunisation Programme started earlier in the year, about 88% of the state’s adult population or about 1.6 million people have been fully vaccinated as of Dec 27.

About 86% or 203,655 adolescents aged from 12 to 17 have been fully vaccinated.

As of Dec 26, a total 128,176 positive cases were detected in the state with 1,374 deaths.

It was also revealed during the recent Perak state assembly sitting that over 1,000 civil servants, including 369 teachers in the state, had yet to be vaccinated.

A teacher from SMK St Michael, Ipoh made headlines in November after a video of him lamenting about being isolated in a former storeroom for not being vaccinated went viral on social media.

The principal had said that the teacher was the only one in the school who had yet to be vaccinated despite being advised to do so.

The principal’s action was defended by the school’s Board of Governors and Parent-Teacher Association, who said he was only following Education Ministry guidelines.

It stated that non-vaccinated staff were not allowed to conduct face-to-face teaching and learning, nor be in the same room or areas as students or other staff members.

The teacher has since been assigned to ther tasks by the state Education Department.

A teenager in Kamunting was slapped with a RM5,000 compound for removing her Covid-19 home quarantine bracelet in August.

Police managed to identify her from a video that went viral on a popular app.

With the achievement of almost 90% of the adult population being fully vaccinated, interstate travel was allowed in October.

During the first week after the travel ban was lifted, not even the monsoon season could stop people from visiting Pangkor as close to 10,000 travelled to the island.

The state moved to Phase Four of the National Recovery Plan on Nov 6 along with Perlis, Penang, Sabah and Kedah.

Reviving the economy

During the state assembly sitting in December, a RM50mil deficit budget was tabled for 2022.

Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Saarani Mohamad said the budget would focus on rejuvenating the economy while providing aid so people could become self sufficient.

He said RM20mil would be allocated for the tourism sector, RM51mil for agro-based industry, RM328mil for infrastructural development, RM35mil for education and RM50mil for environmental conservation.

He also announced that Pangkor would host the state’s first major international event — Pangkor International Boat Show 2022 — from Oct 19 to 23, with 60,000 visitors expected, locally and from abroad.

On Nov 15, state local government committee chairman Datuk Nolee Ashilin Mohammed Radzi unveiled a plan to develop a light rail transit (LRT) system in Ipoh.

The LRT system, which was included in the Ipoh City Local Plan Draft 2035, would cover a distance of 58km with 28 stations, including Meru Raya, city centre, Batu Gajah and Simpang Pulai.

On Oct 29, it was revealed under the Batang Padang District Council’s Local Draft 2035, that a cable car project connecting Tapah to Ringlet, Cameron Highlands was in the pipeline.

More discoveries of cave paintings, numbering about 500, were found in about 40 locations from Sungai Siput to Gopeng.

Kinta Valley Watch spokesperson Ching Boon Tat said the paintings were discovered over the past two years.

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