Thursday, January 18, 2007

Boatmen Offer Tour of Flooded Areas

KOTA TINGGI: Boatmen here are charging between RM5 and RM10 to take people on a “tour” of flooded areas.

Knowing that such an “offer” was available, hundreds came here hoping to be taken around.

Some of the boatmen were heard saying that since it was Visit Malaysia 2007, why not visit Kota Tinggi.

“We heard about the town being submerged and decided to check it out,” said Martin, a 30-year-old mechanic from Johor Baru.

Another person said he was “waiting” to see if any action would be taken against people who hired the boatmen before taking one.

“I don’t want to be caught doing this. I know it sounds bad to do this when so many are suffering but humans are curious,” he said.

Those who had “toured” the flooded areas came back shocked at the devastation they saw.

“I really pity the people here. I came because I wanted to see first-hand how bad the situation was after reading the papers,” said Jenny, a 28-year-old waitress.

Asked if she felt it was a cruel thing to do to go on such a “tour”, she replied: “I did not bring the rain. I was curious and it is not like I harmed anyone by going on the tour. I paid for it.”

Asked why they were doing it, a boatman said: “Why are you asking? Are you a reporter?”

The “tour” boats could be singled out as the passengers did not wear life jackets and were busy taking pictures.

The army and police made sure everyone had a life jacket while in their boats.

“We have advised them that it is dangerous but they still want to do it,” a policeman said.

“We are doing relief and rescue work, and it is difficult to monitor them. We offer advice and warn them.”

Meanwhile, the onlookers who looked happy to get a “feel” of the floodwaters could not care that their presence was hampering the work of relief workers.

Source : STAR

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