Cabinet meeting yesterday a great disappointment as it did not address anyone of the five central issues I had highlighted in my email to Najib – in particular on emergency; Special Parliament and RCI on Flood Disaster Management Preparedness

The Cabinet yesterday, the first in three weeks since the worst floods catastrophe in living memory which has claimed at least 23 lives, evacuated a quarter of a million flood victim to relief centres, affected over a million people and caused losses to the tune of billions of ringgit, is a great disappointment and letdown.

It failed to address anyone of the five central issues of the floods catastrophe I had highlighted in my email to the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak on Sunday, in particular on the declaration of a state of emergency to more efficiently and swiftly deal with the post-flood challenges and dangers, the convening of a Special Parliament and a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Floods Disaster Management Preparedness, apart from setting up a Barisan Nasional-Pakatan Rakyat Flood Action Council and the allocation of RM500 million as interest-free loans to the flood victims to start life and business anew, ranging from RM1,000 to RM250,000 loans.

When Deputy Prime Minister and the Chairman of the National Security Council, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin was in Kelantan on Tuesday to chair the Kelantan post-flood co-ordination plan committee, he said the damage to public properties amounted to RM932.4 million, but the damage data reported by the various ministries and government agencies in the following cases have already exceeded RM1.6 billion, viz:

  1. Damaged school properties in Kelantan and other states – RM500 million;
  2. Repair of damaged roads and slopes – RM434 million;
  3. Repair of damaged railway stations and tracks – RM250 million;
  4. Ministry of Local Government clean-up operations only in Kelantan: RM200 million;
  5. Ministry of Health repair to hospitals and clinics – RM270 million
  6. Repair of damaged police stations - RM15 million.

Not all Ministries and government agencies have announced their damage assessments and the above are not the final estimates of the of repair needed to restore to the position pre-flood situation.

As the Health Minister, Datuk Dr. S. Subramaniam said yesterday, the estimated RM270 million bill to repair the damage caused by floods in the east coast to hospitals and clinics are expected to rise once more when the feedback is compiled from all the relevant agencies, and he is even talking about the government having to spend up to RM1 billion for overall repair works by his Ministry.

Are we looking at a RM5 billion or RM10 billion bill by the Federal government for damages caused by the worst floods catastrophe in living memory in Malaysia?

If this is the public Federal government bill, what about the damages suffered by the private sector and the million flood victims?

What boggles the imagination however is the RM800 million which the Deputy Finance Minister, Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan said on Monday as having been spent already by the Federal Government so far “through the National Security Council (NSC) to help victims in states affected by floods” for the provision of food supply, logistics and cleaning house of victims.

Malaysians find this figure of RM800 million having been spent so far “for the provision of food supply, logistics and cleaning house of flood victims” completely unbelievable, as neither the flood victims nor the NGO members active in flood relief work in the past three weeks would vouch that the Federal Government, through the NSC, had spent even half or quarter of the RM800 million which Mazlan claimed as having been spent already for the flood victims.

When on Tuesday together with Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasam and MPs Anthony Loke and Liew Chin Tong, I visited Gua Musang and Kuala Krai, including the Ground Zero zones of Manek Urai, Manjor, Karangan, Laloh, Dabong and Kemubu, no cleaning up was possible as there was neither water nor electricity for the devastated areas two weeks after the flood catastrophe.

At its height, the floods catastrophe caused an evacuation of nearly a quarter of million people in the various relief centres. There were seven days when the number of flood evacuees exceeded 100,000 people, from 26th December to 1st January 2015, viz:

Dec. 26 119,596;
Dec. 27 156,035;
Dec. 28169,020;
Dec. 29 225,370;
Dec. 30 246,232;
Dec. 31167,573;
Jan. 1 - 110,891.

But this is not the largest number of flood evacuees in the nation’s history, as shown by the following chart for the earlier floods: Flood Damage and evacuees for Selected Floods in Peninsular Malaysia

Flood Event Damage Death Evacuees
Year Place (RMmillion)
1967 Kelantan 78.4 38 320,000
1967 Perak 60.8 0 280,000
1967 Terengganu 15.8 17 78,000
1971 Pahang 37.7 24 153,000
1971 KL 34.3 24 NA
1988 Kelantan 29.8 19 36,800

There were 678,000 flood evacuees in the 1971 floods in the three states of Kelantan, Perak and Trengganu. How much did the Federal government spend in 1971, when Najib’s father Tun Razak was the Prime Minister, for the “provision of food supply, logistics and cleaning houses of flood victims”?

Did any Minister question in the Cabinet yesterday the scandalous claim by Mazlan that RM800 million had already been spent by the Federal Government for the “provision of food supply, logistics and cleaning houses of flood victims”?

Did any Minister specially made the point that no money should be spared to help the flood victims but not a sen should be wasted or abused, and that all eyes would be on the post-flood catastrophe to ensure that there would be no hanky panky in the disbursement of the multi-billion ringgit public funds making it a model of integrity in the multi-billion ringgit national disaster relief and rebuilding operation – cautioning that the worst flood catastrophe should not be followed by another catastrophe of a multi-billion ringgit rip-off by “flood disaster” barons, entrepreneurs or cronies?

But then, which Minister would dare to insist or even to remind on the importance of strict integrity in the disbursement of the multi-billion ringgit floods catastrophe relief and rebuilding operation, as the Finance Minister is none other than the Prime Minister and to raise any question might seem to be doubting the integrity of the Prime Minister?

Did any Minister raise in Cabinet the outrageous and insufferable statement by the Minister for Agriculture and Agro-based Industry, Datuk Seri Ismail Yaakob that it was “impossible” for the government to deliver flood aid to each household, that the government could only deliver aid to flood victims through village chiefs but cannot “control what happens” at the lower level?

This is completely unacceptable, as a responsible and efficient government must be able to ensure that government aid reaches every flood victim, who are not made to suffer the further victimisation of being discriminated against by the village chief, whether for political, religious or whatever reason.

Or did any Cabinet Minister ask the Muhyiddin why the Floods Disaster Management Preparations and Plans were so shockingly inadequate, particularly why the National Security Council under his chairmanship had not been serious in preparing for the floods catastrophe, as he had chaired only one NSC meeting before the floods for whole year of 2014, and that some 12 months ago on January 3, 2014!

Clearly, there is an urgent need for a total revamp of NSC. Was this discussed at the Cabinet meeting yesterday?

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Gelang Patah