Call for full public support to the Prime Minister-led national response to the country-wide flood disaster with flood victims already exceeding 120,000 in seven states
The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak will arrive in Kelantan today to lead the national flood response after cutting short his vacation in Hawaii.
I call for full public support to the Prime Minister-led national response to the country-wide disaster with flood victims already exceeding 120,000 and at least eight deaths in seven states of Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang, Perak, Johore, Perlis and Kedah.
The response to the worst flood disaster in the nation’s history cannot be the government’s responsibility alone, but must involve the effort of all Malaysians, but it must by spearheaded by the Federal Government and in view of the magnitude of the disaster, by none other than the Prime Minister himself so as to mobilise every available ounce of resources to render help to those in need in the quickest possible time.
The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim was right when he said in Kelantan yesterday that there are adequate food supplies as well as assets to send them to flood victims, but the challenge is still how to send the essentials to those who had been stranded – like the heart-rending account of the approximately 100 victims taking shelter at a school in Kuala Krai who had been living without food, clean water, electricity or any aid for over 40 hours or those staying in outlying and inaccessible areas.
International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapha Mohamad had recounted his ordeal on Thursday night experiencing first hand what it was like to grapple in the dark in waist-high floodwaters in search of safe ground, while knowing that a misstep can mean the end, and how a 10km journey from Keroh to the District Officer’s office in Kuala Krai took him and a rescue party four hours, arriving in pitch-dark as all powers had been cut off.
As admitted by the Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muyhiddin Yassin in Pengkalan Chepa yesterday, although the government had expected one of the worst floods this year, the severity and scale of the floods had taken the authorities completely by surprise as it was “worse than anticipated”, overwhelming all disaster management plans and preparations.
Such a bureaucratic mess could only be straightened up immediately with the Prime Minister taking charge of the flood disaster relief operations, cutting through all red tape and bureaucratic bottlenecks.
This was why my focus in the past few days were on three objectives:
Firstly, to persuade the Prime Minister to cut short his vacation in Hawaii to return to Malaysia to take personal charge of the flood disaster relief operation;
Secondly, to seek an emergency Cabinet meeting within 24 hours on the flood disaster so that Ministers like Mustapha who have reports about the weaknesses of the flood disaster management plans and preparations can make their reports and for immediate rectification to be taken instead of waiting for the next Cabinet meeting, probably scheduled for the first Wednesday of the new year on January 7 – a full fortnight away.
Thirdly, to persuade the Prime Minister and the Cabinet to declare a state of emergency to deal with the nation’s worst flood disaster in recent history so there can be a full and fast mobilisation of flood relief efforts at federal, state and local level, with full public support. Clearly, the past criteria for the declaration of a natural disaster emergency requiring hundreds of thousands of flood refugee or full disruption of power and water supplies should be changed, as such onerous conditions are not imposed for declaration of emergencies for flood disasters in other parts of the world.
This was what I meant when I had twittered yesterday that “Many tried childish provocations. Why I do not turun padang in Kelantan to help flood victims. I am doing national service which they cannot do.”
I never said I would not visit Kelantan or the flood-hit areas, as when faced with natural disasters, Malaysians regardless of race, religion, gender, age or political party, should unite as one Malaysian people to help all victims.
This is why the DAP under the leadership of the National Organising Secretary Anthony Loke has launched a nation-wide fund raising campaign for the flood victims with full support from all the DAP States, and the Pakatan Rakyat state governments of Selangor and Penang have swung into action to help flood victims.
Let us move on to give to priority to the flood victims.
Lets hope and pray that my second and third objectives would also be realised – a special Cabinet meeting on the country’s worst floods in recent times within 24 hours and a declaration of state of emergency to deal with the flood disaster.