Donald Pang, a camping aficionado, had intended to go camping in Johor this month with three friends, but postponed the trip due to Malaysia’s continuing monsoon season, which has caused devastating floods and landslides in several regions.
The 59-year-old marketing professional told CNA on Wednesday, “If you’re on high ground, you might not be flooded, but you might have landslides.”
“And if it is pouring or storming, there is also the possibility of trees and branches falling on you. Unless you camp on open land, which poses a risk of lightning. Thus, there is an increased danger.”
Mr. Pang said that frequent rain would make camping less fun since campers would be forced to remain in their tents instead of enjoying the outdoors.
“In light of these reasons, I believe we may postpone the trip. We could always camp in Singapore, at Ubin, East Coast, or Pasir Ris, if we so desired,” he continued.
Mr. Pang’s remarks came after a landslide buried a campground at Father’s Organic Farm in Selangor, Malaysia, on December 16, killing 26 people and leaving seven more unaccounted for. Search efforts are currently continuing.
Authorities reported that 94 individuals were camping at the site when the tragedy occurred in the early hours of the morning, and that the property was only permitted for organic farming and was thus functioning illegally. There were three Singaporeans rescued.
Due to its closeness to Singapore, Malaysia is a popular camping site, according to Singaporeans who camp there. They also noted that camping in Malaysia is economical, with a variety of terrain- and environment-specific campgrounds to select from.
The Singaporeans stated that they would typically not examine a campsite’s licenses or permissions, instead relying on the experiences of others and their own risk assessment of the region.
Mr. Pang, who has camped in Johor, Pahang, and Selangor and who goes on around one camping trip each month, stated that he does not often check for licenses, especially at established campgrounds that have been in operation for several years.
“In general, we never considered it in relation to camping. Unlike when seeking medical advice or visiting a clinic or hospital, when legitimacy is an issue, there is no need to question the legitimacy of these websites,” he said.
“For camping, one simply camps and sits there. Most campers will investigate the campsite’s amenities.”
Nonetheless, Mr. Pang stated that it is crucial to examine the local weather at least six days prior to departure, as it might be “a matter of life and death.” For the monsoon season in Malaysia, he advised campers to carry appropriate rain clothing.
Location is also an essential consideration. Mr. Pang, who manages the Camping Singapore Facebook group with more than 2,000 members, explained that camping along a stream might expose campers to severe flash flooding.
An expert told CNA that while officials are still examining the cause of the recent tragic landslide in Malaysia, it was likely a result of the recent heavy rainfall.
Dr. Nor Shahidah Mohd Nazer of the Department of Earth Science and Environment at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia explained that the rain caused what is known as a “earthflow” when the slope became saturated and slip surfaces formed deep under the ground.
Mr. Pang stressed that despite all measures, landslides might occur “anywhere” and were impossible to forecast.