The Sabah earthquake and the tremble of mighty Mt Kinabalu shocked and struck many chords within me. I love trekking that mountain. As a pastor I have led three church groups (20-40 members each time), of young people and families mainly from eleven years old to over fifty. To hear of news of the Sabah quake and the deaths of young climbers aged 12, and teachers of Tanjong Katong Primary School is deeply sad and disturbing. I was a teacher before, and I am a parent too, and I understand to some extent a parent’s heartbreak for I have lost a child before.
The pointing of fingers have started. People blaming the “angmohs” for disrespectfully posing naked and peeing on the sacred mountain and invoking the wrath of the gods. People blaming the school, the Ministry of Education and impersonal policies and decision making processes. Parents blaming each other and themselves. This is not the time for all these. Not the time.
Writer Ovidia Yu posted this in her Facebook:
So long as we live, they too shall live,
For they are now a part of us,
As we remember them.
Poet, writer, artist, social commentator Gwee Li Sui posted a haiku on Facebook:
Haiku to the Sabah Quake Victims
As you sought to reach
the sky, it rained down boulders.
Nature has wronged you.
A church member Cynthia Koe posted in her Facebook:
In times like this it is not about what to say but what should not be said.
A time like this is a feel moment not a word moment. A listening moment not an encouraging moment.
Mourning takes time and a hand to hold not a ” aww, it is ok” hug time. Let them share their loved ones’ stories and lets hear with tears as they say their last goodbyes.
What she said is true and it inspired me to write a Haiku on my Facebook account:
Not the time for blame
But for tears and holding hands
For grief to mend hearts
So it was good that the Tanjong Katong Primary School opened it grounds for its school community to grieve.
It was good that the Ministry of Education mobilized its counselors to help survivors and classmates of the departed to grieve and process the trauma.
It was good that the government declared a day of mourning today: flags flown at half-mast, a minute of silence at all South East Asia Games venue before the start of events.
We need to pray for TKGS and all the bereaved families. It will be very very painful for them in the coming months. No, years.