Two extra reasons for a RCI into Floods Disaster Management Preparedness and why this should be top agenda of a Cabinet special meeting on floods disaster
The latest developments in the floods disaster have given two extra reasons why there should be a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Floods Disaster Management Preparedness and why this should be the top agenda of a special Cabinet meeting on the floods disaster.
First, the Malay Mail report that the medical evacuation (medevac) mission for two mothers with severe labour complications was delayed on Sunday for almost two hours at the Badang health clinic by VVIP visits to flood-hit areas.
Dr. Afiq Rahim, stationed at Badang health clinic, recounted this in his facebook, https://www.facebook.com/affick, which has become one of the most closely-followed social media on the trials and tribulations of the dedicated medical personnel and public servants serving their duty under great odds in the current floods disaster.
Dr. Afid should be an exemplary model for all Malaysians, right up to the Cabinet level, of how Malaysians should conduct themselves in the face of a colossal disaster – prioritizing the saving of the lives of others than to save oneself!
The first patient of a mother with difficult labour pains at the Badang health clinic came in on Sunday at 3.30am. At about 6am, doctors decided she required tertiary healthcare attention and medical evacuation.
But the helicopter which was summoned only arrived at 8am two hours later as the helicopter had to be put “on hold” as a VVIP wanted to visit the flood-hit areas.
The second patient who arrived after 8am in labour was also faced with a similar predicament, slipping in and out of consciousness after losing a lot of blood.
Dr. Afiq was fully justified to be infuriated by the delays because the authorities had prioritised official visits despite the patients being in critical condition.
He said yesterday: “Two lives could have been lost yesterday due to the nonchalant attitude of the authorities.
“It is disappointing and frustrating for those of us who are ensuring the safety and health of the victims.”
Is this in accordance with the standard operating procedure (SOP) for disaster management that VVIP visits are given priority over patients in critical conditions?
Such cases should be investigated by the RCI on Floods Disaster Management Procedure so that there would be no repetition of such incidents, where VVIPs put the lives of ordinary rakyat at risk so that they could visit flood-hit areas.
Could the Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin reveal the full details of who are these VVIPs who had put at risk the lives of two mothers with severe labour complications at the Badang health clinic on Sunday, or must the question be directed to the Prime Minister himself?
The second incident was the statement by the National Security Council (NSC) yesterday defending Putrajaya’s flood relief efforts, in response to the criticisms by DAP leaders, in particular the DAP National Publicity Secretary Tony Pua and DAP National Vice Chairman S. Kulasegaran that the authorities’ disaster management plans and procedures had been “overwhelmed” by both the scale and scope of the floods disaster.
The weak excuse given by NSC was that the floods were abnormal, that “no matter how prepared we are, there will always be a bigger and more devastating disaster that will test the capability and resources of the country”.
As example, the NSC statement said that although the Japanese government had invested billions of dollars in disaster mitigation and preparedness plans, these plans were “overwhelmed” when the tsunami struck Tohoku region in 2011.
It said: “This is because the preparations that had been put in place are for a one in 100 years event but what came that day was a one in 1,000 years event”.
The NSC went on to absolve itself by claiming that what was happening in Malaysia now with regard to the floods disaster, especially Kelantan, was a similar example.
This NSC statement and claim is most startling and self-serving to say the least, especially as the Deputy Mentri Besar of Kelantan Datuk Mohd Amar Nik Abdullah is on public record as saying that the current floods in Kelantan is not as bad as in 1967 – which is then a far cry from the worst ever floods to hit Kelantan in January 1926, referred to as the “red flood” (bah merah), which inundated almost all parts of the state with flood waters which were reddish in colour, a departure from the usual milk tea or brown-coloured water caused by the many landslides following 10 days of non-stop heavy rain.
So who is right, the NSC or the Deputy Mentri Besar of Kelantan?
Be that as it may, the NSC statement is the source of unintended revelation that the NSC under the chairmanship of the Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin had met only once this year on floods disaster management and preparations before the worst floods disaster in recent decades ravaged the country just before Christmas – almost 12 months ago on January 3, 2014.
The second NSC meeting under the chairmanship of Muhyiddin was on Dec. 27, after the the floods disaster had hit the country!
According to the NSC statement, it continued the unintended revelation that the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim chaired a “second meeting” of the NSC on floods disaster on October 13, 2014 “to further iron out the crinkles in the co-ordination and preparation”, which was followed by a “third meeting” at the working level on the same day, chaired by the NSC secretary.
If these are all the meetings and preparations the NSC had made to face the nation’s worst floods in recent decades, then the whole NSC must be censured and even sacked and replaced – as it shows neither sense of responsibility nor seriousness in taking charge of the nation’s floods disaster preparations and plans which have caused nearly a quarter of a million flood victims and evacuees.
I call on Muhyiddin to clarify whether the NSC statement is correct that so far the NSC had only met once under him as Chairman on the floods disaster preparations on Jan 3, 2014 and the second meeting was after the floods disaster on Dec. 27, and that even the Ministerial-level meeting under Shahidan only met once on Oct. 13, 2014, followed by a working-level meeting on the same day chaired by the NSC secretary – and that was all the preparations on the floods disaster made by the NSC.
If so, all the more a special Cabinet meeting must be held to completely revamp the NSC.
Can the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak clarify whether the Cabinet would meet tomorrow, or whether this is not possible because many Ministers are still vacationing overseas?