PETALING JAYA, Malaysia - The authorities should have known the impact of releasing so much water from the dam and should have done more than just sounding the siren, said Datuk S.K Devamany.
The former Cameron Highlands MP said Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB), together with local authorities, could have done more by immediately engaging Rela or the Civil Defence Department to alert and evacuate the villagers first.
"The water pressure increased due to siltation and heavy rain and they had to release the water. But they should have done more to alert the people. At that hour, people are sleeping and sounding the siren is not enough.
"The authorities should also have known that releasing such a huge amount of water would have an adverse effect," said Devamany, who is now Perak state assembly speaker, when contacted yesterday.
Water released from the Sultan Abu Bakar hydroelectric dam on Wednesday after the siren was sounded left three people dead, nearly 100 houses destroyed or flooded and over 100 vehicles badly damaged at Bertam Valley in Ringlet.
Thirty-eight people from about 80 families were later placed at the Ringlet community hall.
Devamany said he had held several discussions with TNB on how to tackle a problem such as this during his tenure as Cameron Highlands MP.
"During my time, TNB had plans to dig up the entire river to widen it but the project is on hold due to funding as it would cost RM40mil to do this," he added.