Varsity organises event to highlight struggles of Kelantanese residents in face of monsoon season challenges

PETALING JAYA: Universiti Malaysia Kelantan (UMK) recently organised a one-day exhibition called “Musim Boh”, which captures the people’s struggles each time Kelantan is deluged by the annual monsoon floods. “Boh” means “flood” in the Kelantanese dialect.

UMK Department of Heritage Studies senior lecturer Dr Suraya Sukri, who organised the exhibition in collaboration with the Malaysian Civil Defence Force, said its point was to emphasise the importance of assessing hazards in natural disasters.

The exhibition was jointly inaugurated by Kelantan Museum Corporation deputy director Muhammad Ali Hussaini Aminullah, Bachok district civil defence officer Lt Mohd Khairi Mat Hussin and UMK deputy dean Assoc Prof Dr Ahmad Azaini Abdul Manaf.

“Kelantan always invokes negative impressions among the public when it comes to tap water quality and the recurring flood challenges.

“These issues are a huge part of life in Kelantan, but the residents and students from other states have turned them into opportunities to band together as a community.”

During the most recent floods, the State Disaster Management Committee secretariat reported 17,466 individuals from 5,510 families across eight districts were affected, with most having to evacuate.

Suraya, who is a Kelantan native, said those affected continue to lead their lives with a sense of gratitude, for the fact that they are at least safe.

“Imagine a serene river turning into a raging torrent, engulfing everything in its path. This is the reality of what floods do, (with its) sudden and devastating effect on the people.

“We face it in Kelantan every year and it makes life difficult for thousands of people. It’s something we can’t avoid until flood mitigation projects get underway. For now, with the floods come huge financial losses, pain and sadness for the people.”

She said houses, where families laughed and shared stories, get filled with muddy water, adding that the floods do not just ruin things at home, it break hearts too as extended families who used to live together are no longer able to do so as their houses have been destroyed.

“They try hard to hold on to whatever is left and are grateful to be alive. But it’s tough, which is why this exhibition is important. It shows what the people go through each year, narrates the stories of their resilience during the floods and captures their struggles in moments of adversity.”

Suraya said more efforts are underway to educate the public, particularly students from other states, through other collaborative initiatives and exhibitions.

She also stressed the significance of understanding and protecting cultural practices that define the identity of the Kelantanese people, especially amid challenges and potential threats, including those from natural disasters.

Through collective efforts, Suraya said educational institutions and cultural organisations contribute significantly to the promotion of a society that values and preserves its strength while concurrently fostering a robust and adaptive response to the ever-present threats of natural disasters.

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