Cabinet should revisit the question why an emergency was not declared for the worst floods catastrophe in living memory, affecting millions of people, evacuated a quarter of a million people, cost 23 lives and caused losses running into billions of ringgit and give assurance an emergency would be declared for future disasters
Malaysians must be very disappointed that despite calls from many quarters, the Barisan Nasional Government had failed to declare a state of emergency, limited in place and time, over the worst floods catastrophe in living memory, affecting millions of people, evacuated a quarter of a million people, cost 23 lives and caused losses running into billions of ringgit.
It even created flood history in Malaysia in knocking out the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak who subsequently claimed that he was also a flood victim – “confining him to bed for days” due to the infection with E. Coli bacteria while visiting flood-affected states.
Actually, Najib was a flood-victim twice over, as he was forced to cut short his vacation in Hawaii earlier, returning to Malaysia on a commercial flight, creating a mystery as to the whereabouts of the government official jet which had flown Najib Hawaii in the first place.
The Cabinet should revisit the question why an emergency was not declared for the worst floods catastrophe in living memory, and the Prime Minister should give an assurance that in future disasters of such magnitude, the Federal Government would not fail in its duty to declare a state of emergency to mobilise the entire national resources, particularly the 150,000-strong armed forces, to render the quickest help and relief to the disaster victims.
The reports in the past week about the aftermath of the worst floods catastrophe in living memory are all painful reminders of the lost opportunities in providing the most immediate relief and help to the flood victims, particularly in Kelantan but also in Terengganu, Pahang and Perak which could have been rendered if a state of emergency had been declared and all national, state and local resources, together with the 150,000-strong armed services, mobilized in a national disaster mitigation and relief operation.
In such circumstances, the death toll would not be 23, the number of flood victims not as massive as millions of people and the losses in the gargantuan figure of billions of ringgit.
On Sunday, the Health Minister Datuk S. Subramaniam talked about the Health Ministry wanting to have its own “air force” and “navy” in future flood disasters, as the Ministry had not been able to provide good health services during floods because assets such as helicopters and boats had to be shared with other agencies.
He said that the Ministry was considering having helicopters and boats at the disposal of hospitals and clinics to ferry patients in flooded areas.
This raises the question why a state of emergency had not been declared to direct all available helicopters and boats belonging to all agencies to be dispatched to the flood-stricken areas to save lives, evacuate flood victims and provide essential services and supplies?
In the past few days, Malaysians read harrowing accounts of communities being stranded without food, water and essential supplies for several days, although they were occasions for Malaysians regardless of race and religion to demonstrate their humanity, concern and unity to reach these isolated communities with much-needed aid, although they could not get any help or attention from the official authorities.
What however continues to be a bugbear to all flood victims and all who had taken part in the flood relief operations is the astounding claim by the Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Ahmad Maslan on January 5 that the Federal Government had spent RM800 million through the National Security Council (NSC) to help flood victims in flood-stricken states for the provision of food supply, logistics and cleaning houses of the victims.
Did any Minister question in the Cabinet this scandalous claim by Mazlan that RM800 million had already been spent by the Federal Government on Jan 5 for the “provision of food supply, logistics and cleaning houses of flood victims”, as the flood victims and all flood relief workers from civic organisations and political parties could not sense of any such RM800 million expenditure for the flood victims, whether in Kelantan, Terengganu or Pahang?
If the Federal government bill was already RM800 million on January 5 to provide “food supply, logistics and cleaning houses” of flood victims, what is the bill today on January 14?