Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Day of drama

In case anyone's curious, let me say that, no, I did not feel the effects of the earthquakes from Sumatra at any time today. Not when the first earthquake struck in the ocean off Sumatra at about 4.40pm; nor when the big aftershock struck a few hours later.

I would like to believe that the reason is because Bukit Mertajam - or at least, my part of Bukit Mertajam - sits on a very hard surface. Maybe the whole of Bukit Mertajam town sits on a very large hard rock. Whatever the reason, we never, ever, feel any earth vibrations in this part of the state.

So it came to pass that while other Penangites were excited over the tremblors in the afternoon, life went by very peacefully in this busy little town. The first instance I knew of the earthquakes in Sumatra was when my wife phoned to ask whether or not I had felt the first one. Seemed that people in Simpang Ampat had felt it. But she didn't because she was driving then.

Then facebook went crazy with messages from all sorts of people regarding the earth shaking. Inevitably, the rumours followed. One after another. All unverified, but spreading just the same. But more important than the rumours were reassuring messages from people in the Penang government telling people the real situation on the ground. Good that there were proactive folks on facebook too.

At about nine o'clock in the evening, the rumours reached my son who was on the island. But he was smart. He called his old man to check whether the Penang Bridge was really closed. As if I knew, I muttered to myself, but I told him as confidently as I could that the bridge was open. But I have to admit now that I wasn't entirely sure when I told him that. What if it had really been closed? He would have been caught in one of the most horrendous traffic jams on the island and it would be my fault. Luckily for him, and for me, the bridge was operational and clear.

Amidst all these "breaking news" and rumours on the social media sites, I received an improbable text message on my mobile - totally unrelated - telling me that the Ops Scorpene French lawyer, William Bourdon, had been arrested by immigration at KLIA today.

Again?? What was going on, I was thinking to myself, had he gone mad to risk another trip to Malaysia? Bourdon had been detained at the KLIA in July last year and then deported. Why would he want to come back and test his luck, especially when the Scorpene case was about to open soon in France? I tell you, that text message didn't make any sense to me. So I did what any level-headed man would do: ignore the message if it couldn't be proved. Glad I did, because it turned out to be just that: a baseless hoax.

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