Bright Stove

Reflecting information risk journey

Geographical effect on responsiveness

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At dinner last night in Bangkok with a colleague, we talked about our ancestors from China, on why they migrated to Singapore during the war period instead of staying put. We also shared our common agreement that most of the people who migrated from China are in fact living in areas that are nearer to the coastal lines, and because of that, they see more changes coming to them, more in touch with the outside world, and therefore more prepared to venture out when the situation inland became less conducive for them. On the other hand, people living more inland tends to less exposure to the outside world, and don’t seem to be more aware of the changes coming. It occured to me that where we live geographically in fact will affect our view of the world, our readiness to deal with changes coming or going on, and our willingness to change. Along the same line, I hypothesize that people’s capability or preparedness against natural disasters and/or catastrophic events is also dependent (to some extent, or maybe a large extent) on their geographical position.
When the Tusnami hit Asia in late Dec 2004, it was reported in a number of news media that some fishermen who live along the beaches and coastal areas of Malaysia saw the changing tide and immediately sensed the emergence of a catastrophic event unfolding. A number of them were fast enough to warn the beach goers and saved many lifes. However, the tourists who were new to the areas, especially those at the beach resorts areas in places like Phuket for holiday, were unaware of the danger coming and could not escape the tide on time.
Obviously, not everyone is alert all the time, but people’s past exposure to changing conditions in where they live will always help them to prepare for more changes ahead. Exposing people to incident scenarios is likely to help them to prepare for incidents in the future, even though the scenarios could be very different from the real event.

Written by mengchow

November 4, 2005 at 8:00 am

Posted in Risk Management

One Response

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  1. On being alert and responsive in relation to the Tsunami tradegy, I’ve just come across an article in the March 2005 issue of Readers’ Digest (, which reported just how early warning had actually saved thousands of lives in Aceh, Indonesia during the Tsunami incident. The article, entitled "In the Face of Disaster", was reported by Chin Saik Yoon of Channel News Asia. Chin reported about how Vijayakuma Gunasekaran, an Indonesian living in Singapore who heard about the news of the earthquake and tsunami unfolding, decided to call home to Aceh, resulting in her sister relating the warning to "a couple of quick-thinking villagers" who broadcast a distress siren to the entire village, saving all 3,630 villagers — all as a result of Vijayakumar’s timely action. What’s worth noting is that Vijayakumar is the son of a fisherman from Nallavadu in Pondicherry, India.



    November 5, 2005 at 5:01 am

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