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LETTER | The inadequacy of the govt's disaster management efforts

LETTER | It has been six days since Selangor experienced major floods at various townships such as Hulu Langat and Taman Sri Muda. During this time, many NGOs, political parties and government agencies have come together to assist one another throughout the week.

As we are approaching Christmas in just two days, many local grassroots communities have been actively planning their upcoming holiday trips as we've approached our Covid-19 endemic period. It's in fact, I would say, the majority of us are not even well prepared to receive another big blow of natural disaster falling onto our beloved country Malaysia.

As of today, we have half of the states in Malaysia experiencing major flooding, especially in the West Malaysia region with 388 evacuation centres operating in seven different states, catering to 17,564 families with a grand total of 62,414 victims being affected.

My open letter today focuses on three key issues:

1. Natural disaster preparedness and the mismanagement of the sluice gate in Taman Sri Muda;

2. The inefficiency of the National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma) in issuing key announcements before natural disasters Strikes;

3. The inability to synchronise disaster relief efforts between NGOs and government agencies.

Natural disaster preparedness

I would like to zoom into the case study on the current flooding at Taman Sri Muda. This year, they had experienced a grand total of four major floods, and this is the worst of it all from the sources I've gathered from the grassroots level.

The question I would like to ask our beloved federal government today is, what has the government done over the past 12 months to address the critical issue of major flooding that's happening at Taman Sri Muda?

Have we taken any initiative to solve the pressing issue of floods in that particular area? What has the Selangor Drainage Irrigation Department (DID) done over the past 12 months to address this particular matter? Who's the contractor and the officer/inspector that's supposed to be in charge of the sluice gate for Taman Sri Muda?

Because of the negligence caused by the Selangor DID, I strongly believed that both the state and federal governments owed the members of the public sincere apologies and large damages to be paid to all families affected by the flood.

Because of the government's inefficiency, they've made the whole entire Taman Sri Muda township an unliveable place and caused many inconveniences to the local community and frontliners currently serving on the ground.

On top of that, many of the local residents here are not well prepared to face what is to come. This will greatly affect the mental well-being of the B40s families due to the additional financial burden that's being added on them, and some will return back home without a house once this flood has subsided.

In order to find a solution to solve this problem before the next natural disaster strikes, our government should continue to push for the establishment of the Civil Defence Emergency Response Team (CDERT) of the Malaysia Civil Defence Force in every single housing community using the bottom-up approach.

Although we do have the establishment of CDERT nationwide right now, many people throughout our beloved nation are still unaware of it. I would urge the government to increase more funding to the Malaysia Civil Defence Force for this subdivision agency to further empower the local community to be well prepared for the next natural disaster.

Nadma's inefficiency in issuing key announcements

When Nadma announced that they were unable to assist flood victims due to insufficient funds and mobility, they had clearly shown to the public that they were very slow in responding to this major flood that's happening right now in seven different states.

Before this disaster struck, Nadma clearly failed to utilise existing government facilities to blast out this potential lethal flood that's going to happen in the West Malaysia region.

Our government could handle this more efficiently by promoting a central app such as "Info Bencana JKM" to the members of the public, especially existing flood victims evacuation centres. This will also enable the flood victims to receive first-hand information on the latest situation.

I'm also wondering what our Malaysian Meteorological Department has been doing over the past two weeks in addressing this rainstorm? Their efforts alone did not seem to be enough to reach out to the public.

Our government should start to consider using local influencers in the future to address this particular matter to address such a critical disaster that's approaching us.

Inability to synchronise disaster relief efforts

In the upcoming post-mortem meeting in regards to this flood disaster relief, our government should start to work closely with civil societies and NGOs that are actively working on the ground currently by setting up a special task force to ensure all the food aid, hygiene kit and basic necessities are being equally distributed to all the affected victims.

Otherwise, resources will be wasted if there's an overlapping of the same aid being channelled to the same recipients.

Our government should also set up national, state and district social-media channels to bring together leaders of NGOs and civil societies. They can then work with the Welfare Department to synchronise resources, distribute aid equally, and cut down on unnecessary expenses. By doing so, we are able to live up to the theme of "Strength in Unity" in this disaster relief.

Last but not least, I would like to send my prayers and regards to all the families that are being affected by this current flood disaster. May God continue to give all of you the strength and grace to live in this challenging time.


The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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