RSIS webinar on “Is Malaysia ready for its next major flood? History, politics, and policy challenges in flood governance”

Organizer(s) Nanyang Technological University



4.00 - 5.15 pm (Singapore time, UTC+8)


The timing of Malaysia’s 15th General Election in November 2022 during its annual flood season was controversial given Malaysians’ recent memory of their worst flood in decades in December 2021. That took nearly 50 lives, displaced about 400,000 people, and led to financial losses of an estimated S$2 billion. Despite the loss of life and people displaced, climate change and disaster management received little attention during the General Election.

Historically, Malaysia has experienced severe flooding such as the “Great Flood” in 1926 that initiated reform. The scale and impact of the “Great Flood” were exacerbated by industrial and agricultural developments. This experience proved a catalyst for an improvement in land and river management over the following years. More recently, the major floods of 2014 and 2021 undermined public confidence in the administrative competence and political will of the beleaguered administrations of the day but did not result in substantive changes taking place.

This webinar will bring together a panel of experts to analyse the historical and contemporary government and societal responses to extreme weather events in Malaysia, and what they tell us about Malaysia’s environmental and political landscape.

About the Speakers

  • Fiona Claire Williamson holds a PhD from the University of East Anglia, U.K., and joined SMU in 2018. She is an environmental historian with a particular interest in the history of the climate, meteorology and extreme weather in Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong.

    Her research focuses on the environmental history of Singapore, British Malaya, and Hong Kong, the history of the climate, climate change and extreme weather and climate and its impact on colonial cities. She is especially interested in how the weather has shaped culture and society; inter-disciplinary projects with scientists and geographers on the Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect, the recovery of historical observational weather data for climate modelling, and the history of nature-induced disasters in Asia. Dr Williamson teaches Science, Environment & Empire, and Climate, History & Society.

  • Said Alhudzari has wide experience in the humanitarian and development sectors. He is Country Programme Manager at Qatar Charity’s Malaysia Office. Previously, he had served in various roles at Mercy Malaysia, including as the General Manager of the Programme Development and Operations Division. Notable projects he was involved in include the Malaysian flood response and recovery in 2014/2015 (Kelantan) and 2021/2022 (Selangor and Pahang), COVID-19 Response and Preparedness, the QFFD Refugee Healthcare Programme, and several humanitarian response operations in locations like Bangladesh, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Gaza Strip, and North Darfur, Sudan.

    Said is currently pursuing a Master of Development Studies at the University of Malaya. He graduated with a Bachelor of Human Sciences (Hons) from the International Islamic University Malaysia. He also holds an International Diploma in Humanitarian Assistance (IDHA 35) from the International Institute of Humanitarian Affairs at Fordham University.

  • Ong Kian-Ming is Program Director, Philosophy Politics & Economics, at Taylor’s University, Malaysia and Digital Economy and Business Transformation Impact Lab Director. He was a Senior Visiting Senior Fellow at the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute from March 2023 to September 2023. He is Senior Adviser to Global Counsel, an international advisory firm. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA). He was appointed in August 2023 for a two-year term.

    He is a former two-term Member of Parliament (MP) in Malaysia from 2013 to 2022 (MP for Serdang from 2013 to 2018 and MP for Bangi from 2018 to 222) representing the Democratic Action Party (DAP). He was the Deputy Minister of International Trade and Industry (MITI) from July 2018 to February 2020. He was a former Fulbright Scholar and holds a PhD in Political Science from Duke University, an MPhil in Economics from the University of Cambridge, and a BSc in Economics from the London School of Economics.

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