December 29, 2014
MY COMMENT: 2014 has been a horrible year for our country. Lahad Datu and security breaches in Sabah remember? Then came MH370, MH17, Cameron Highland landslides, and now the AirAsia 8501 tragedy (One Malaysian presumed dead).
In Kelantan, Pahang and Terengganu, we have terrible floods at a cost to the nation yet be ascertained. Given persistent rain in and around Kuala Lumpur in recent days, we in the commercial hub of our nation could be in danger of flooding on a scale possibly larger than the 1971 floods. Is the City Hall and The Federal Territory Minister prepared for this?
It gives me no comfort to read Nawawi’s article which tells us that we have not learned the lessons of our past tragedies. Why have we become so arrogant that we cannot document our experiences, and use the information we have gathered to develop a national disaster management system which can be deployed to deal with emergencies in any part of our country?
What is happening in Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang is a disgrace. Our leaders have failed to take control. They have shown that they are ineffective in mobilising our assets and coordinating efforts to deliver relief to thousands of Malaysians who are directly affected by the floods.
Najib’s “Rakyat didahulukan pencapaian diutamakan” is a meaningless slogan. In fact, it is shocking to learn that key ministers were on leave during this period and had to be asked to return home by our Prime Minister, who himself was on a working holiday in Hawaii to conduct golf diplomacy with US President Barack Obama. How can they all be uncaring and self-centered.
I also find it embarrassing that government agencies including the Military and Police have not acted as they used to when our country is in a crisis. Something is really wrong when our disaster management is performing below par. It makes me worry to think whether we are ready to face external enemies when they threaten our sovereignty and territorial integrity, given our level of preparedness.–Din Merican
What happened to our disaster management?
by Nawawi Mohamed@www.themalaysianinsider.com
Malaysia has experienced several natural disasters which resulted in loss of lives and properties starting back in December 1993 with the collapse of two blocks of the Highland Towers, then the tsunami in 2004, the recent Cameron Highlands landslides and the latest being the unprecedented floods in Kelantan, Pahang and Terengganu.
By the way, with so frequent flooding, we ought to be professional in facing them by now. Unfortunately, we are never ready and never prepared.
In the Highland Towers tragedy, we lacked experience such that the Japanese Civil Defence sent a team to help in the search and rescue effort. Search and rescue teams from Singapore, France, United Kingdom and the United States also came to help.
Besides helping, they also showed us the relevant techniques and the equipment they used in disasters. In fact, at the end of the search, the Japanese left their equipment and donated them to Malaysia.
From that incident, Malaysia formed its own Search and Rescue Team under the Fire Department. Our team had also been sent overseas to help disaster victims, like in Aceh during the tsunami in 2004. Naturally, every Malaysian should feel proud that we have our own reliable team and managed to help others in foreign countries as well.
Besides the elite team mentioned above, we also have several non-governmental organisations that play significant roles both at home and overseas. We have other agencies like JKR, JPA, PDRM, military and volunteers who at times have been at the forefront in the rescue efforts.
Malaysians are generally generous and we are all proud to be Malaysians in that sense. We also have the means: the equipment, machinery, resources and manpower to undertake the search, rescue and help victims in almost any natural disaster. We can do it.
But at the government and political levels, our ministers and politicians have not shown their will to improve themselves. Despite having declared that they work for the people since it is the people who put them into power anyway, at these times of need they seem to be lost and preoccupied with their own personal world.
We all know that Datuk Seri Najib Razak was holidaying and golfing in Hawaii, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein was said to be in London, loud-mouth Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was quiet as a mouse, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was also said to be in Australia and Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yasin was not in control.
Never mind the politicians but even if they want to have fun while the people are facing hardship, make sure that there is a system established and could run on auto-pilot.
The UMNO/Barisan Nasional government should set up a central command at the federal level with branches in every state to coordinate the various NGOs, volunteers, government agencies and above all the control of correct information should be given to the public.
Coordination is important so that every area is covered by the various teams and overlapping of efforts could be avoided. The disaster command centre will also be able to know the exact amount of resources at hand, and what kind of help is needed most.
Just look at the recent blunder as reported in the papers when TNB managed to send 45 gensets to Pahang and only 1 genset to Kelantan despite the latter being affected most.
TNB has limited logistics resources and they are not a logistics specialist either. If there had been a proper disaster management, some form of transport could be provided, may be by the military to help send the gensets where they are most needed.
The centre should only have one contact number, which will be connected to several help and information lines. Do not give the individual contact numbers of the NGOs, government departments and agencies because the central command must be the reference point. None of them should act alone, all should be under the central command and be coordinated efficiently.
There must also be a website meant to cater for any disaster where everybody can reach and not depend on the social media which most of the time spread false or half-truths. The website should be interactive where applicable so that those who need to know feel more comfortable.
The UMNO/BN government must also educate the people in the flood-prone areas to be ready with survival supplies: food, drinking water, clothes, medicines, toiletries and other necessities should be carried along during evacuation.
The whole supply could be in the form of standard ration placed in a lightweight bag which could have multiple uses. For instance, it could be used as a life buoy if the victims are swept away. Add in an identification beacon for easy searching.
What we have now is the National Security Council (MKN) which is lousy but we do not feel secure. They have done nothing much except simply to exist and may be just to get paid. And nothing else except blunders in every disaster that we faced.
It seems the UMNO/BN government has not learned much, if not nothing, from the disasters that we have had. Now if Najib and all the politicians want to go elsewhere during any disaster, please do something about it.