Prepping in Malaysia: Water Rations 2


Read these first:-

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(Some of the quick steps taken the State Government when the state faced with serious water contamination and people’s anger over the matter got worse on daily basis. Image source: YB Hannah Yeoh)

Couple months ago (and the month before as well), a good number of households (including yours truly) in the good state of Selangor was hit by prolonged water supply disruption. The culprit was water contamination – earlier from a source in Selangor (which the state government took swift actions) and later from sources from other states. The disruption of water supply created havoc to our daily routine and we had to be on our toes when the SYABAS water tanker comes to the residential area. Thankfully to the quick work by the hard working people at SYABAS and other agencies related to water supply, the taps was running high again by afternoon of Deepavali and remained uninterrupted since then.

Inconvenience to the end users no doubt but then again, it is a wake call for the authorities & the state government to take notice and make plans for the future.

NST reported this at the start of the water supply crisis:-

Centre for Environment, Technology and Development chairman Gurmit Singh describes the water management system in the country as “fragmented”. “We are in this situation because we have badly managed our surface water resources. On top of that, we have the dichotomy between the federal and state governments.

“Most state governments have failed to protect and maintain their water catchment areas. This compromises and adversely affects our reservoirs and water supply. We rely on surface water, but much of it is being wasted through badly maintained and burst pipes.”

But, he says Malaysia has not reached the stage where it needs to resort to underground water sources. Gurmit calls for more efficient irrigation practices, as this will mean more water for consumers. He also suggests that industries be supplied with raw, not treated water. “They do not need high-quality water because they mainly use it for cooling purposes.”

(Source)

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(This was back in 2007 – do we have enough water catchment area protected and enforced in 2016 and beyond? The fact the water treatment closed down more often than usual due to water pollution seems to suggest that we are lacking the means to protect our natural resources. Image source: Google)

The Semenyih water treatment plant was shut down for numerous times this year despite the abundance supply of raw water (unlike 2 years, we were struggling to get raw water due to prolong hot season). Thus far, contamination of raw water have blamed and it had come to a point where the state government even began to get suspicious – is someone sabotaging the state government with the water issue?

Well, whether the suspicion turns out to be true or not, at the end of the day, it boils down to enforcement, enforcement and enforcement. Water contamination will not go away in the near future but addressing them before it gets worse and forces the shutdown of the water treatment systems is the key step here and it had to be done so consistently.

Back home, we had been prepping for water shortage and water rations way before 2014 when the level of water in the dams was dangerously low. What have changed in the years thereafter is information channels and the community coming together to assist each other in time of crisis.

The residents at my residential area belongs to the resident association who in turn created a group chat room. So one get the news of water disruption, this valuable information is quickly shared among the rest of the residents. Often it takes couple of hours from the time the water treatment plant shuts down and to the time the taps at home goes dry. So if one gets the information as early as possible, there is more than enough time to quickly save up water. That means the house water tank to be full to top as well as the 3 huge water buckets (one is kept at the porch for ease of filling up water from SYABAS water tankers). Then there is several smaller buckets and in addition to that several containers of clean water for drinking & cooking.

And as an additional measure, couple of cartons of 1.5 liter drinking bottles also kept in the “doomsday store room” – 12 bottles cost less than RM10 per carton (which is a good deal). The trick is to buy them upfront & store before the news gets leaked on the water disruption and there is a mad rush to buy drinking water. At one point, I even had to drive out to places where there is not water disruption to buy drinking water as the ones near my house had fully sold out (including those expense ones).

And we have been keeping sharp eyes on water leaks to ensure that in time of crisis and when water becomes precious, we don’t have hidden leaks that reduces our water storage. And in the past, major leaks had come from broken water tank and in the end, we had to make a whole water tank replacement (after several attempts to patch the holes in the old water tank). That replacement costed us almost RM1000 but it was worth it in the long run.

Keeping the water at the water tank aside, we set priority on which of the water containers we will use first so that when the water authorities sends their water tankers, we can get ready the empty containers and pots to be replenished fast. And there is a good reason for that. The water tankers do not come at scheduled time and sometimes by the time they passes by the road in front of the house, the water level in the tanker is very low (they will send another tanker full of water later but we won’t know when). There were once the water tanker came in the early mornings when it was raining heavily and everyone was fast asleep – at times, timing just sucks.

And big containers are not feasible to use when the water tankers come because it does not fit the hose of the tanker and when it is full, it will be difficult to carry them. So we empty the smaller containers into the bigger containers as and when the level of water comes down. We then arrange these smaller containers, buckets and pots nearer to the main door so that we don’t have to search for them later when the water tanker comes. And everyone in the family chips on the effort of collecting the water from water tankers and this includes the kids who can carry the smaller containers. And like a well oiled machine, we keep doing it until the big containers are full and thereafter the smaller containers as well (thanks to the SYABAS guys who wait patiently for the residents to get their supply of water)

In addition to the off-beat water tanker timing, we also did not forget about the natural source of water – the rainwater which we can use for dish washing and for the toilets. Thankfully it rains often in the evenings so there is no lack of opportunities. There is no high tech rainwater harvesting system in place yet but a rough, low tech system consisting of simple buckets and roof gutters does the job just effectively. But a proper rainwater harvesting system is still in the pipeline in the future.

In end, a good mix of quick information, plenty of upfront storage of water to last the whole family for couple of days, prioritizing the usage of water and ensuring ways to replenish the supply of water kept us in the “cool” until the water contamination issue resolved and the supply is back to normal. There are many people in this country still don’t have access to clean water for their daily use so it is important we manage the water resources effectively and conserve water as much as possible. Our water resources already under tremendous constraint to meet the ever growing population and industrial needs, so faster we act, the better we can manage in the future.

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2013 – Expectations & Targets


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(The overloaded book cabinet that is long due to get a “partner” – the sign was obvious when we started to see books all over the place. And we have targeted this year to get one and reorganise the area into a mini-library )

Happy New Year to all and welcome! So, what’s I am expecting in 2013?

We will have the big Boss’ 1st year birthday to celebrate this year and compared to the one we did for our son (the other Boss) many years ago (although we made it up for his 2nd birthday), we were thinking of doing it on a larger scale with friends and family and probably save the trouble of cooking for all by just engaging a proper caterer. The problem is to find the right place to have this celebrations – doing it in the house is the obvious option for now but it may not be enough to accommodate all if we are going to “formally” do this one (parking would be chaos too). And if we are going to do one for new Big Boss, we also need to do a similar one for the other big Boss, just to be fair (we might combine the two celebrations to cut cost & time and make it a lot easier for guests too). Anyway we still have a couple of months to decide and plan for this birthday bash – we just need to pull our resources to finalise them. I am sure we will get plenty of suggestions. And we can’t wait to share the new Boss’ experience of growing up in the same manner we had with our son (we still do and we are loving every moment of it).

My son has moved up into the “first class” this year and we are all well aware of the intense competition and high expectations (from the teachers) in that class for the top places. We are also well aware of the fact that if he did not do well this year, he will be moved out from the “first class” to other “lower class” next year. Actually we are not very concern with this “first class” – “lower class” issue. Education can come in all forms and manners and the status of class means nothing to any students who are hard-working, all rounders and well understands the subject matters. And we are more than happy if son gets good marks (to go to college) and the education that will be useful in his future. And we know that he can keep up with his friends in the same class if he wants to if he spends more on school books than on his comic books & games. So this year, a small change of strategy needed in making sure he spends more time on his writing, school books and homework and us spending more time to check on his school work and tutor him if we find any weaknesses.

For this year, we are also intending to add another book cabinet before end of the year and turn the small family area upstairs into a mini library (we already calling the existing book cabinet “the library” but it would be better if we can get the books more organised). My son has been stacking up more books in his room and because we don’t have enough space in our current book cabinet, it is taking up precious space at his cabinet where he is also keeping his school books. And it has come to a stage where we are now stacking up books in 2 rows and on top of each other in the book cabinet. So another book cabinet is a must before we have the 2013 Big Bad Wolf Book sales starts at end of the year (another event to look out for in 2013), otherwise my wife is going to see more books lying all over the place and I know how much she hates me making the house “dirty”. Creation of a mini library would also mean that we need to rearrange the prayer altar for the book cabinets & maybe a couple of soft sofas and work on better lighting to make the reading more pleasurable (to make it an ideal corner for reading).

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(2012 may been the Mayan’s end of the calendar year which thankfully did not happen but hopefully this 2013 would be prepper’s year to be one notch better than last year. Picking up from the news report on last year’s doomsday excitement, it should not be the end of prepping and getting ready for disasters in the future)

2013 would also be my target year to be a complete prepper where I hoped that we will be self-sustaining on food, water and others (maybe with improvements on security as well) for at least couple of months. Think about it – we barely into 2013 and we already facing a serious disruption of water supply – a basic need for all living things and despite it has been raining cats & dogs for some of the days, there seems to be plenty of finger-pointing as to who to take the blame (in this case, the contention that Syabas should take the complete blame for poor maintenance of the pumps makes a lot of sense). I have a colleague who did not have running water in his housing area for the last 2 weeks and he has 2 school-going children to take care and things are not getting any better even now (the latest news reports states that this situation is going to last way in February – imagine the havoc on Chinese New Year celebrations and then we had warnings of typhoon Sonamu hitting the East Coast states with a possible spill-over to West Coast (so, another round of flash floods?). Anyone recall when was the last time we had major warning on the some tropical storms hitting our shores? And I am not talking about the yearly “musim tengkujuh” warning. Is it going to be sign of things to come? Would prepping be part and parcel of our normal routine in the coming months? With a constant threat of water disruption (and now the weather), perhaps we should start with prepping of water for a longer time period and that is what I am targeting for this year.

Oh yes, we will likely to see the general elections to be held this year and it will be interesting to see on whether Pakatan can still to hold on to the states of Selangor and Penang which BN lost back in 2008. After all, they have been pretty “busy” for the past years since 2008 campaigning Pakatan as a bad choice for Selangor instead working themselves to be better choice for the people. It will also be interesting to see whether BN can regain the lost two-third in the Parliament (a place where they have been kept on their toe by the increased and well coordinated oppositions). However the fact that the Selangor State Government resisted the implementation of AES in the state (with dumb politicians failing to see the bigger picture) is more than enough for me to turn to the dark side and vote for BN. The Pakatan fellows may have their merits in resisting the AES implementation but the longer they resist without a solution in sight meant lawlessness on Malaysian roads will continue with dire results. Whatever it is, we need to be prepared for face dirty politics as part of our daily life until and perhaps after the dust had settled after the general election (we saw the same thing in 2008 – remember the Perak fiasco? I hope you still remember it – it was a case of law of the jungle at the highest order).

One thing is certain at this point of time in 2013 – we will not be a developed country by 2020, not in the next short 7 years that we have (there are too many things to be undone and done and I don’t see the political will-power to take drastic actions), not when we don’t have broad minded politicians who can see the bigger picture (some still living in the Stone Age and insist on others to follow them too), not when we are still lack in areas of enforcement & management of resources and certainly not when we continue to segregate the people by race and religion (unless something drastic happens in this year). The ex-PM, Tun Dr M can go to his grave knowing that his vision 2020 remained as a vision and nothing more.

Counting down into the 8th year of blogging, it has been one a good way for me to relieve stress and provide a good mental exercise (another has been reading a good book). And speaking of stress, 2013 seems to be a good year to relook into the topic of health and well-being. It is something I started at the end of last year – eating less outside and bringing food from home. Since the birth of the baby and until the time is right for my wife to go back to work, (since she had to wake up in morning to make milk for the baby) she decided to prepare food for my daily lunch. Nothing special or difficult – last night leftovers and something simple & hot in the morning and with less oil, salt and carbohydrate and more protein. Money saved from daily lunch (and breakfast) is re-used to buy fresh vegetables and fish (which is not getting cheaper by the way), so in a way I am getting a bigger boost for health from the same amount of money. It is not about me going for dieting (it will not work) but rather eating more balanced, healthy food, something that sometimes is difficult to get in your local mamak stall. The other aspect of getting healthy is exercise and that is something I have not really planned on anything specific other than take up more time to play badminton with my son in the evening on weekends and do more housework (cleaning & painting the house).

Let’s see how things moving on as we proceed further in 2013…

H1N1 – The Missing Pieces


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(Is this the real cure of H1N1? Image source: Wikipedia)

As at todate 71 Malaysians have died from the H1N1 virus and we have yet to see the end of the pandemic.

Compared to the earlier days of the pandemic, the Health Ministry has been providing a good day to day status of infections and deaths on their H1N1. But that is the end of it. Other key information is missing.

The missing information is:-

1. What are the H1N1 hotpots in Malaysia? (The DPM opened his mouth and said that the government might reveal the hotpots but it was a case “no action talk only”)

2. What is the demographic profile of the infected victims? (it is not for any racial discrimination but for an insight of diet and lifestyle)

3. The total people that has been infected as at todate (the Ministry does provide the daily infection number but stopped providing the grand total unless one is keeping the daily number religiously)

Then you have this interesting revelation:-

If you read the stories on H1N1 influenza written by the mainstream media, you might incorrectly think there’s only one anti-viral drug in the world. It’s name is Tamiflu and it’s in short supply.

That’s astonishing to hear because the world is full of anti-viral medicine found in tens of thousands of different plants. Culinary herbs like thyme, sage and rosemary are anti-viral. Berries and sprouts are anti-viral. Garlic, ginger and onions are anti-viral. You can’t walk through a grocery store without walking past a hundred or more anti-viral medicines made by Mother Nature.

Where do you think Tamiflu comes from, by the way?

It’s extracted from the Traditional Chinese Medicine herb called Star Anise. It’s one of hundreds of different anti-viral herbs found in Chinese Medicine, not to even mention anti-viral herbs from South America, North America, Australia, Africa and other regions.

Then if one digs further, we find this:-

Shikimic acid, a primary feedstock used to create the anti-flu drug Tamiflu, is produced by most autotrophic organisms, but star anise is the industrial source. In 2005, there was a temporary shortage of star anise due to its use in making Tamiflu.

Late in that year, a way was found of making shikimic acid artificially. Roche now derives some of the raw material it needs from fermenting E. coli bacteria. The 2009 swine flu outbreak led to another series of shortages as stocks of Tamiflu were built up around the world, sending prices soaring.

When we look further at the source of star anise, we get disturbing news:-

Only star anise grown in the four provinces of China is suitable for manufacture into Tamiflu and 90 per cent of the harvest is already used by Roche.

Well, well, isn’t it interesting to note that the main source of ingredient of the medicine against H1N1 is controlled by one pharmaceutical company and the governments around the world are stock-piling the Tamiflu as the number of H1N1 infections and deaths are increasing?