1.     Introduction

 

Malaysia is
often considered as a safe country, unlike others hit by disasters like
earthquakes, typhoons, volcanic eruptions and tsunami. Many Malaysians may have
taken the issue of safety for granted because Malaysia does not get as many earthquakes
as other nations do  (Thye, 2015). For instance, a
shocking strong earthquake with a magnitude of 5.8 strikes Lahad Datu, Sabah in
1976 (Bernama, 2013). No one knows when
and where such quake will occur, but the risk of injury, death and property
loss during an earthquake can be reduced by everyone if they are aware and
prepared in facing this natural catastrophe. In this research, the level of awareness and preparedness of Malaysian
citizens on earthquake is being investigated. The objectives of this
study are to examine the perceived disaster preparedness among Malaysians, to
examine the source of information on disasters and to provide recommendations
based on the findings.

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2.    
Geography and location of Malaysia

Malaysia is located in the southeast of the Asian continent and is often referred to as
Southeast Asia. Malaysia consists of two major parts which are Peninsular
Malaysia and East Malaysia. Peninsular Malaysia is situated on the southernmost
section of the Malay Peninsula, south of Thailand, north of Singapore and east
of the Indonesian island of Sumatra while East Malaysia comprises most of the
northern part of Borneo island, with land borders shared with Brunei to the
north and Indonesia which is to the south. Malaysia also lies within the Sunda
Microplate, a “small” tectonic plate that also includes much of Indonesia. The
country lies within the plate, and thus it doesn’t have the usual strain build up
that would cause earthquakes. There are parts of Malaysia (close to Java,
Indonesia and the Philippines) where tectonic forces are sufficient to generate
earthquakes, as the 2015 Sabah Earthquake proved. Earthquakes can happen but for
the most part, Malaysia doesn’t get as many earthquakes as other nations do (Williams, 2017).

 

In an article, a seismology
expert, Dr Mohd Rosaidi Che Abas said that the threat of an earthquake cannot
be ignore. Even though the possibility of Malaysia being hit by a strong and
huge earthquake remains slim, know that Malaysia is close to areas that have
experienced strong earthquakes, including both Sumatra and Andaman Sea, while
Sabah and Sarawak are located close to the earthquake zone of South Philippines
and North Sulawesi. Therefore, the odds of an earthquake affecting Malaysia
cannot be ruled out (Bernama, Malaysian Digest,
2013).

 

3.    
Findings based on survey and research

This section discusses the
findings of the data collection conducted for this investigation. Data was
collected for this study through a survey (Appendix I). A total of 131
respondents who answered the survey to see if they are aware and prepare for
earthquake.

3.1  Respondent Profile

As shown in figure 1 and 2, in
terms of age group, majority of respondents were from above 30 age brackets
which accounted for 42%. 32.8% from the respondents were from the age of 16-20,
13% were from the age of 26-30 and the least are from the age of 21-25 which
was 12.2%. Overall, in term of gender, there are more respondents from female
as compare to male which was the respondents from female contribute 63.4% of
the total respondents.

                

Figure 1: Age of Respondents

                  

Figure 2: Gender of
Respondents

 

3.2  Experience, Preparation and
Awareness

Respondents were asked whether
they have experienced earthquake in their life. Based on Figure 3, among 131 respondents,
a total of only 26 people (19.8%) have experienced an earthquake while the
others have not experienced it. Most of the respondents never experience
earthquake their whole life. The respondents were also asked whether they were
prepared in facing an earthquake. Of those surveyed, based on Figure 4, majority
of the respondents (61.1%) believed that they were not prepared for an
earthquake and 30.5% of the respondents believed that somehow they were ready
to face an earthquake. Only 8.4% who feel that they were adequately prepared
for an earthquake. From this, we can conclude that there was less exposure on
how to survive during earthquake towards Malaysian citizens.

Figure 3: Experiencing
earthquake

 

           

Figure 4: Readiness on
preparing for an earthquake

 

In addition, respondents were
asked on whether they know what they have to do during earthquake (refer Figure
5). The number of respondents who do not know what to do and where to go during
earthquake and also the respondents who think they might know what to do and
where to go are the same. Only 16% of the respondents claimed to be knowledgeable
and confident about what to do and how to prepare themselves in the event of
natural disaster or emergency.

    

Figure 5: Knowledge on what to
do at the time of an earthquake

On the next question in the
survey, respondents were asked on their level of concern for an earthquake to
affect Malaysia. The following Figure 6 shows the level of concern of the
respondents. The results show that most of the respondents are very concern
that an earthquake will affect our community. By this, we can prove that even
though most people do not know what to do during disaster, they are concern
about it and more information should be given to the citizens. This reflects
that they are sure of the risk posed by an earthquake.

 

Figure 6: Level of Concern of
Malaysian Citizens

 

3.3  Information Received

Findings also shows that 43.5%
have received earthquake preparedness information while the remaining 56.5%
have not received any information regarding earthquake preparedness. We then
analysed the source of information received by the respondents. The most
popular way on receiving information about earthquake was through internet. The
least popular way on how to receive those important information was through
government. This shows that government should do something to spread more
information to all the citizens so that they are prepared in facing an
earthquake.

 

        

        

         Figure 7: Information received                 
Chart 1: How do they receive information

 

4.    
Results and Education

4.1  Results

Based on the survey, overall,
we can conclude that there were still lacking of awareness and preparedness
among Malaysian citizens. We believe that in case any earthquakes are going to
happen in Malaysia, most Malaysian are not prepared to face it. The fact is
that Malaysia is often regarded as a safe country, unlike others hit by
disasters like earthquakes, typhoons, volcanic eruptions and tsunami has
probably given rise to a lackadaisical attitude towards safety among
Malaysians. Though Malaysia is not prone to earthquake, however, in case of any
earthquake experience either during travelling or irregular occurrence in
Malaysia, citizens should be well educated. Malaysia should adopt a
total-safety culture like Japan, where the people on the spot are the
first-responders. We must never assume that Malaysia is safe from disasters.

With climate change, we may encounter more natural disasters.

 

4.2  Education

So how can we prevent
earthquake from happening? We cannot stop natural disasters from happening but
we can be prepared in facing it. Awareness on earthquake should be given to
everyone especially to Malaysian citizens. We would not know what is going to
happen in the real future, preparation in facing natural earthquake is really
important. Up to date, there is not much info and publicity on earthquake for
public awareness. The key to
reducing loss of life, personal injuries, and damage from natural disasters is
widespread public awareness and education. People must be made aware of what
natural hazards they are likely to face in their own communities. They should
know in advance what specific preparations to make before an event, what to do
during a hurricane, earthquake, flood, fire, or other likely event, and what
actions to take in its aftermath.

 

In order to educate the
citizens on preparation during an earthquake, many efforts are needed and the
most important thing is, the nation has to cultivate a national consciousness
on earthquake. Early steps should be taken to be ready and prepared in facing
natural catastrophe. National public awareness programme should be executed at
all levels to provide pertinent information to public. Government should pay
more attention as Malaysia is not forever safe from earthquake and they should
play an important role in spreading info so that Malaysians can cope when they
are facing with one. We should not wait until the disaster struck.

 

Equally important, public
officials and the media — television, radio, and newspapers — must be fully
prepared to respond effectively, responsibly, and speedily to large-scale
natural emergencies. They need to be aware, in advance, of procedures to follow
in a crisis that threatens to paralyze the entire community they serve, and
they need to know how to communicate accurate information to the public during
a natural disaster. An early-warning is also important so that people will be
prepared during the disaster. An early-warning system can make a huge
difference between life and death. Apart from improving early warning system,
we should also develop an efficient communication and response system. In this
regard, we need to learn from the best practices of other countries to adapt
measures that are suitable.

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