BFM Interviewed the President of Water Watch Penang and a Physical Geography professor of University Sains Malaysia, Professor Dr. Chan Ngai Weng, on approaches to deal with flash floods. 

Listen to the podcast here.

With the monsoon season now well underway, daily reports of flash flooding have become a normal occurrence in the city, as flood evacuee numbers rise in rural areas. Today we discuss the issue of flash flooding, and whether the country has implemented enough measures to prevent rather than just manage flash flooding, that will ultimately allow the government to save billions of Ringgit that are spent on mitigation plans (Source: BFM, 2015).

The Amount of Water You Actually Need Per Day

Hint: it’s not always eight glasses.

Eight, 8 oz. glasses of water a day: it’s a rule that’s been burned into our brains for years as the ideal amount of fluid to drink each day. Yet no matter how many times experts say that’s not quite accurate, many still believe “8×8” is the magic amount.

The truth: How much water you should drink each day really, truly depends on the person, Robert A. Huggins, Ph.D., of the University of Connecticut explained to Health. “Fluid needs are dynamic and need to be individualized from person to person. Factors such as sex, environmental conditions, level of heat acclimatization, exercise or work intensity, age, and even diet need to be considered.”


Ways to solve our water woes

THE current dry spell is nothing new. It is part of the normal variation in the weather patterns, although some may want to attribute it to climate change.

Malaysia experiences a wet equatorial climate with annual precipitation averaging 3,000mm, which is more than 10 times what most African countries get.

Given such abundant water resources, one would expect Malaysia to be “free” from water problems, but sadly this is not the case.

The country still suffers from many water problems caused mostly by human activities, although natural factors such as seasonal and spatial variation are also causes.

Human activities are the “root cause” of most of our water woes. Malaysians (domestic and industrail water consumers) are generally a wasteful and apathetic lot in that too much water is used and wasted in both sectors.

The main reason is that water is provided very cheap as the tariffs are heavily subsidised by the Government. One state even provides “free” water to domestic consumers.

Deforestation and destruction of water catchments, rapid population increase and economic development, all of which need water, are other root causes.

Water/river pollution is also another human cause. All these causes have resulted in the situation in the Klang Valley today.

Malaysian society too is largely a water wasting society, with the national average water consumption of 212 litres/capita/day.

In developing countries, 20 litres to 30 litres of water per person per day is considered adequate for basic human needs. Hence, Malaysians are using nearly 10 times this amount.

In comparison, Singapore’s average is only 155 litres/capita/day, India’s average is 142 litres/capita/day and China’s average is only 88 litres/capita/day.

The most wasteful consumers are found in urban areas. In Malaysia, urban dwellers use more than 500 litres/capita/day. Hence, getting Malaysians to save water is of vital importance.

Water tariffs need to be restructured to a level that encourages water savings.

Public awareness needs to be increased to change public apathy to public concern. The country must also change from the traditional Water Supply Management (WSM) approach to a Water Demand Management (WDM) approach, or at the very least a combined approach of the two.

Malaysians can help solve much of our water woes if each of us were to reduce our water demand by just 10%, which is not difficult.

For this to happen, there needs to be a year-round concerted national water conservation campaign to get all consumers on board.

Consumers need to be educated to view water with the importance they would for petrol and electricity.

Making water saving a way of life for Malaysians is the key towards sustainable national water security.

Once people and industry get used to the idea of saving water, water demands would fall and the water system will face less stress resulting in less likelihood of water rationing and water cuts.

WDM is a proven strategy that has worked well in countries such Singapore, Australia and Denmark.

There are many ways to save water. One good way to start is to stop using the hose.

For gardening, one can use a watering can. For washing cars, one can use a pail of water. Industries and businesses can also recycle water and/or install water saving equipment on their premises.



President, Water Watch Penang

(Source: The Star)

Letter to Chief Minister on Sg Pinang Part 2

YAB Tuan Lim Guan Eng

Ketua Menteri Pulau Pinang

Pejabat Ketua Menteri

Tingkat 28, KOMTAR

10503 Pulau Pinang



 Re: Proposal to Launch Sg Pinang Stakeholders’ Initiative and Sg Pinang River Education Centre 

Further to our letter to YAB on 12 March 2008 titled Water, Environment and Penang, we would further like to propose the above project which is long overdue. We at WWP would like to stress that we have proposed this project to past BN Governments but have been rejected under the excuse of lack of funds. However, as you are aware, under the Federal Government’s “One State One River” Programme, the government has been allocated RM100 million (this figure was initially reported in the press but the final figure given to Penang may differ). Despite spending this large amount of money to restore the Sg Pinang (the authorities have built a jetty for fishermen and a river water treatment plant at the Sg Pinang estuary), amongst other activities such as dredging and improving the river, the river is still as dirty as ever. This is simply because not much attention has been given to educating and sensitizing the people (public and businesses) who keep dumping garbage/untreated effluents/discharges into the river. Consequently, every tonne of garbage dredged out by the contractors is more than outpaced by two tones of garbage being dumped into the river. The authorities has not tackled the root cause of the issue, i.e. the source of all the pollution.


It is with this in mind that we propose the launching of the Sg Pinang Stakeholders’ Initiative and the Sg Pinang River Education Centre, first in Malaysia. We are confident that YAB’s government will examine this proposal with due consideration. We are all ashamed that despite being one of the most advanced states in the country, the main river that flows through Georgetown is nothing more than a raw sewer! Our proposal is attached complete with recommendations and costing. If YAB and the Penang Government needs me to explain the proposal, I will be more than happy to make a 15 minute presentation followed by Q & A.

YAB, Thank you for your attention.


Yours faithfully,

Prof Dr Chan Ngai Weng




Plan of River Education Centre 

  • Reception
  • River Museum
  • Aquarium
  • Biology Laboratory
  • Mini-Theatre
  • Models of Sg Pinang
  • Souvenir Shop
  • Hostel
  • Water/Chemistry & Hydrology Laboratory
  • Toilets
  • Canteen
  • Exhibition Boards
  • Model of Hydrological Cycle
  • Model of Sg Pinang Ecosystem
  • Model of Sg Pinang River Basin
  • Model of Pollutants entering Sg Pinang
  • Photograph Exhibition Room