IN ANY LANGUAGE it is devastating and unbelievable. Yet it happened at Padang a seaside town on the western shores of Sumatra Indonesia. Four hundred persons: adults, men and women, children too from a village near the city were totally obliterated when the earth shook, split and pulled all those attending a wedding ceremony at the village into its abyss. Besides, the village mosque's minaret the highest point in the village too disappeared indicating a depth of no less than thirty meters. Not counting hundreds others all over the area and in the town itself.
I have not visited Padang but I have touched down at its airport while on a trip to Bukit Tinggi, a touristic center up on the highlands, famed for its Minangkabau inheritance and culture. Still Padang has its attractions and particularly for Malaysians families. A university at the town is home to many students from Malaysia undergoing medical studies. When the earthquake struck the area with a score of 7.6 on the Richter scale it was enough to wrought worries of their families at home. The immediate evacuation of three hundred or more Malaysian students from Andalas University by RMAF planes helped. In the wake of such disaster help poured in from all corners of the earth. How fast and how ready they are to dig into the rubbles to save those still buried amongst twisted iron and concrete are the hopes of all. Fresh food, water, medicines, clothing and roofing all become necessary at this juncture. Malaysia like other countries offered immediate aid sending in our rescue team ( SMART) and medical personnel.
The severity and intensity of the disaster at Padang did not end there. Other calamities wrecked cities and places in the Philippines with 'Parma' and 'Ketsana' devastating the islands and continuing into Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. The Pacific island of Samoa was crippled by a tsunami that hit the island.
For us that devour the news with much tribulation, its sadness personified thankful that such calamities do not hover over our country. Still our hearts go out to the victims and whatever small contributions we can give will be much appreciated. Already NGO's and newspapers have started collections for assistance. Will you share in giving your contribtion?
An intention to halt the students from returning to their studies at Padang is certainly not a wise decision at this juncture. Don't add insults to injuries. The University has to rebuild itself fast and the loss of its students from withdrawal is the last thing it would like to hear.
Malaysian however has its own terminal disaster. The 'balik kampong' syndrome never failed to strike its ugly head and this year Hari Raya break topped the mark.