'Not destiny': Calls for improved tree management after KL tragedy

Fatal tree collapse in KL highlights need for proactive maintenance

10 May 2024 04:28pm
The current uncertain weather factor in Kuala Lumpur could also contribute to incidents of fallen trees around the area. - Photo by Bernama (Small photo: Lee Lam Thye)
The current uncertain weather factor in Kuala Lumpur could also contribute to incidents of fallen trees around the area. - Photo by Bernama (Small photo: Lee Lam Thye)

SHAH ALAM - Ardent social activist Tan Sri Dr Lee Lam Thye criticised the tendency of authorities to attribute natural disasters, such as falling ageing trees, to 'destiny' or weather conditions.

Lee, known for his advocacy for the environment and public safety, asserted that the recent incident involving a falling tree in Kuala Lumpur, resulting in a fatality, was not solely a natural disaster but rather a consequence of inadequate safety inspections and procedures in tree planting within public spaces.

"The response of our authorities does not align with the reality of our country's unpredictable climate.

"It's as if they disregard this aspect altogether," Lee told Sinar Daily calling for collaborative efforts among authorities to take tangible action.

He also highlighted that the recent incident was not an isolated occurrence, citing the country's frequent heavy rainstorms, which increase the likelihood of similar incidents in the future.

Expressing disappointment in the maintenance of trees, Lee stressed that the incident, which claimed a life, was preventable.

He urged authorities to implement different strategies to ensure effective action, emphasising the need for proactive maintenance and oversight by expert professionals.

"When these trees become a public hazard, such as blocking the road signage, it would be detrimental to the category of people who are not digitally smart and depend on the signage, and before they can turn right or left, it would be too late.

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"This would apply to elderlies, specifically.

"There are well taken care of trees reaching up to 100 years old, so it is not a matter of ageing trees but rather their lack of safety by the carers and planters," he added.

Despite the incident, Lee highlighted the continued importance of tree planting, particularly in the face of the climate crisis.

He urged authorities to address procedural shortcomings, including specifying suitable tree species for planting.

"We are talking about the environment.

"The next step is to advise the authorities about this and, most importantly, not to adopt the view of blaming the weather when such a thing happened," he said.

The Alliance of Safety Community (Ikatan) chairman also advocated for clear procedures regarding tree planting, including addressing issues such as root interference with roadways.

"There are issues where trees' roots get in the way, such as the roadway, which is the places they should not be, and this would be the responsibility of the planters, regardless if they are putting them on private land or not.

"If they are, the city hall (DBKL) is responsible in such a way that notice must be served to the landowner to avoid further danger and for the owner to take the necessary action," he said.

At 2.19pm on Tuesday, a tree that was over 50-years-old fell on Jalan Sultan Ismail in City Centre, killing one man and injuring two others, besides damaging 17 vehicles and disrupting monorail services.

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