Malaysia's USD 405 million super highway, some 333 km
long and climbing to an altitude of nearly 1,500 metres, will become
the country's third road across the country to connect the east and
west sides of the peninsula.
The new link between Simpang Pulai in the west to Kuala Berang in
the east will stimulate development in remote areas of the country
and give access to the isolated mountain terrain and deep forests
which are the home of wildlife and rare plants.
The slopes of highland forests also act to prevent
landslides. Highland forests slow down the flow of rainwater down
slopes and help retain some of this water. Take away this natural
and you'll have torrents of muddy water eroding the soil, bringing
with them landslides and flash floods. Rivers become choked with
silt and water quality everywhere suffers.
The catastrophic consequences of landslides can cause
devastation for people and the environment.
The most dramatic was the collapse of Block 1 of Highland Towers
which occurred on Dec 11, 1993. The whole nation went into a state
of a shock. The tragedy claimed 48 lives.
Examples include the June 1995 landslide in a Genting Highlands slip
road, which resulted in at least 21 deaths and 22 injuries, and the
January 1996 landslide at Gua Tempurung. The most recent tragedy was
the January 2000 Kampung Raja, Cameron Highlands landslide which
resulted in six deaths. The Tanah Rata–Brinchang road tragedy also
cut off links for more than 15,000 people living on the Blue Valley
Estate and Kampung Raja.
In Nov 2002, eight people were killed in a landslide
that crushed the house of retired general Tan Sri Ismail Omar in
Taman Hillview, Hulu Kelang.
In 2004, Cameron Highlands again experienced several landslides. On
Feb 25, a massive landslide near Habu in Ringlet cut off Tanah Rata
and the upper parts of Cameron Highlands via Tapah. The road was
closed for about a week. Although there were no casualties, the
incident disrupted the delivery of fresh vegetables and flowers to
other parts of the country, Singapore and Japan.