National Security Council (NSC) is looking for excuses to justify its weaknesses, lapses and failures by making the hyperbolic and ludicrous claim that Kelantan floods was like Japan’s 2011 tsunami

The National Security Council (NSC) is looking for excuses to justify its weaknesses, lapses and failures by making the hyperbolic and ridiculous claim that the Kelantan floods was like Japan’s 2011 tsunami.

On March 11, 2011, a 9.0 earthquake struck Japan off Tohoku, generating a 10-metre high tsunami that swept away everything in its path and caused a nuclear disaster with the meltdown of Fukushima and other nuclear power plants.

It was the most powerful earthquake ever recorded to have hit Japan and the fourth most powerful earthquake in the world since modern record-keeping began in 1900.

The earthquake triggered powerful tsunami waves that reached heights of up to 40.5 metres (133ft) and travelled up to 10 km (6 miles) inland.

The Japanese National Police Agency confirmed that the triple catastrophes caused 15,889 deaths, 6,152 injured and 2,601 people missing across twenty prefectures, as well as over 127,290 buildings totally collapsed, with a further 272,788 buildings “half-collapsed” and another 747,989 buildings partially damaged.

The main tremoir split highways, flattened buildings and ignited fires all over the northeastern Pacific coast. The ensuing tsunami wiped out entire villages.

As many as 4.4 million households in northeastern Japan were left without electricity and 1.5 million without water.

Hundreds of thousands of people were evacuated when the tsunami caused nuclear accidents primarily at the three nuclear reactors in the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant complex.

The World Bank estimated economic cost of the triple disasters in Japan in March 2011 as US$235 billion, making it the costliest natural disaster in world history.

Although the 2014 floods catastrophe in Kelantan and the East Coast is undoubtedly the worst floods catastrophe within living memory in Malaysia, causing close to a million flood victims, evacuating a quarter of a million people to the various flood relief centres, responsible for a toll of 25 deaths, reduced a few kampongs like Manek Urai, Kampong Manjur and Kampung Karangan in Kuala Krai into Ground Zero and billions of ringgit of losses, it was no comparison whatsoever with the apocalypse of the triple catastrophes which struck northeastern Japan on March 11, 2011.

NSC officials, especially its secretary, Datuk Thajudeen Abdul Wahab have been comparing the recent floods that ravaged Kelantan and the East Coast to the triple earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disasters that hit Japan in March 2011, when such a comparison is completely baseless although the purpose is very clear – to seek excuses for the weakness, lapses and even failures in disaster response, relief and reconstruction spearheaded by NSC.

I shudder to think what it would be like if Malaysia had been struck by a natural disaster anything like the apocalypse of the triple earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disasters that struck Japan in March 2011.

Even in his interview with Malay Mail Online yesterday, Thajudeen was clearly more interested in looking for excuses for the lack of leadership, particularly the failure to declare a state of emergency, and the sub-par disaster response, relief and reconstruction phases of the 2014 Floods Catastrophe.

According to Thajudeen, the recent floods had been so severe that they caused the collapse of the Kelantan District Office that was in charge of disaster management, preventing the NSC from coordinating and receiving information from them.

Thajuddin posed a rhetorical question which highlighted the sheer failure and disaster of the sorry state of Disaster Management Preparedness of the NSC under the chairmanship of Deputy Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin instead of justifying the NSC’s total breakdown of chain of command and communications during crucial first few days of the floods catastrophe, viz:

“Even if I have 50 or 100 officers down there, if I call everybody in the whole country to be there in Kota Baru, but if you can’t communicate with them there, what can you do?”

As a result, we have the shocking episode of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, only realising that the floods disaster was a “major catastrophe” on the fourth day of his return after cutting short his vacation in Hawaii, after he had visited the two worst flood-stricken districts of Gua Musang and Kuala Krai.

This is the fourth week of the worst floods catastrophe in living memory in Malaysia, but the third phase of the flood disaster reconstruction has hardly started.

On Wednesday, a Johore DAP flood relief mission comprising DAP Johore elected representativers and state leaders led by DAP Johor Chairman and MP for Kluang Liew Chin Tong had a very depressing visit to some of the Ground Zero kampongs in Kuala Krai like Kampong Manjur and Kampung Karangan.

This is Chin Tong’s report:

“It has been almost four weeks since the floods in Kuala Krai on 22th December 2014 but the local conditions are almost unchanged and increasingly worrying. The clean-up efforts are frustratingly slow.

“Firstly, the Federal Government should declare an emergency on areas worst hit by flood and deploy the armed forces personnel and all possible assets to clean up once and for all immediately to prevent the outbreaks of disease.

“I saw with my own eyes in Manjor a Health Ministry car with loudspeaker moving around to advise the residents to use clean water and to use proper toilets. But the irony is that there is no water and electricity supply, and the residents are bathing in the river…

“Second, the rebuilding of Kuala Krai and beyond must not be a way for crony contractors to con the Federal government for contracts. Governments of all levels, as well as NGOs, should give emphasis to creating temporary jobs for the locals in the rebuilding effort…

“Something serious must be done very quickly to protect public health, and temporary jobs should be created to keep the local economy moving. ”

The NSC must pull itself up by the bootstraps as its second and third phases of relief and reconstruction in the worst floods catastrophe in living memory are not up to the mark and not impressive at all, after a very dismal performance in the first phase of response to the floods catastrophe.

This is why I have called for a Royal Commission of Inquiry to carry out a comprehensive review of the government’s Disaster Management Preparedness, whether response, relief or reconstruction to ensure that the grave weaknesses, lapses and failures of disaster management preparations, mitigation, relief and reconstruction in the 2014 Floods Disaster become object lessons in dealing with future disasters.

Instead of looking for excuses by making the false and ludicrous claim that Malaysia had not done too badly, as the recent floods catastrophe was like Japan’s 2011 apocalyse of triple earthquake, tsunami and nuclear catrastrophes, Malaysian leaders should wake up from their complacency and comfort zone and learn from the lessons, mistakes and failures of Disaster Management in all three phases of response, relief and reconstruction in the 2014 Floods Catastrophe.

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Gelang Patah