Here’s Wishing for a Brighter 2015

Cover Story
By Fathol Zaman Bukhari
Year 2014 has been a tumultuous year for Malaysians, as the country suffered one calamity after another. Topping the list was Malaysian Airlines Flight MH 370 which went missing along with its 239 passengers and crew on March 8, 2014. Before the dust could even settle, another of the carrier’s Boeing 777 was shot down over Ukraine. Some 298 innocent lives were lost. The people behind the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH 17 on July 17, 2014 have yet to be identified.

Lingering fear of price hikes exacerbated by GST, limited job opportunities and poor remuneration packages
As Malaysians were readying themselves for the onslaught of the year-end monsoon season, tragedy once again struck the nation. It was another airline disaster, the third in a row. This time it was an Airbus belonging to the world’s foremost low-cost carrier whose owner, Tony Fernandes, had proudly proclaimed that his airline’s safety record was “impeccable”. 
AirAsia Flight QZ8501 went off the radar screen while on its way to Singapore from Surabaya, Indonesia on the morning of Sunday, December 28, 2014. All 162 passengers and crew on board the aircraft were killed when it crashed into the Java Sea following an attempt by the pilot to overcome bad weather in its path.
The loss of the three aircraft is being tagged as the nation’s worst tragedy of 2014. We, as a nation, will take a long time to recover from these setbacks. Within a space of 10 months we had lost three state-of-the art passenger planes and a total of 699 innocent lives. Although the majority of the casualties were foreigners and not Malaysians, the fact that the planes were Malaysian-owned speaks volume of our capability, professionalism and preparedness.
While the search for the missing Airbus was going on in the choppy Java Sea, the nation’s worst flooding in recorded history took centre stage. No states were spared, not even Perak whose leaders had once proclaimed that flooding was a thing of the past when Temenggor Dam began operating in 1976.
Over 50,000 people were evacuated as flood waters inundated towns, villages and settlements bordering rivers. In Perak some 5000 victims were moved to relief centres while rescue efforts were underway. At Kampong Gajah, a child was swept away by the rising water on New Year’s eve. This was the only known casualty in the state. Overall, 21 deaths were recorded in the two weeks of carnage beginning on December 15, 2014 till January 3, 2015.
Although leaders are fond of blaming God for the deluge, this time around they cannot pin the blame squarely on the Almighty, as they are equally complicit. Massive deforestation is the primary cause. Years of unfettered clearing of timber-rich jungles, especially in Belum, Lojing and Cameron Highlands, has exposed the populace to this calamity.
Yet in spite of this being an annual occurrence, little has been done to mitigate flooding like what is done in the developed regions of the world. We never seem to learn from our mistakes. This “tidak apa” attitude will get us into greater trouble in future.  
The above events are not aimed at exposing the faults and misdeeds of our “venerated” leaders. They are merely a preamble to our cover on Year 2015.
In dealing with the subject matter the views of a cross-section of Ipohites are taken as a plausible way to gauge their hopes and aspirations for the New Year. Hopefully, the input these selected few proffered, will provide an interesting insight into the thinking of Ipohites in general.
The Professionals
This scribe sat down with three professionals over a cuppa recently to record their take on 2014 and their hopes for 2015.
Marketing manager Audrey Lourdes, 34, lawyer Kenny Lai, 38, and eye surgeon Dr Lee Mun Wai, 40, all felt the effects of inflation, particularly after each round of petrol price hike. For Kenny, the financial implication was the greatest as he had started a family, bought a house and had it renovated. “Property prices keep soaring and owning a house today is difficult

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