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MALAYSIA-WEATHER-FLOODSThe Barisan Nasional government continues to display a stunning degree of ineptitude in running the country, careening from one catastrophe to another. The response to the disastrous flooding in Malaysia’s east coast is but the latest example of this, as the following insightful commentary by Malaysia Insider notes. How is it that there was no early warning or so little emergency planning for what is, after all, an almost yearly event save only for the magnitude of the flooding this year? How long will it take them to get their act together? Are they even capable of getting their act together anymore? ~ Dennis Ignatius


If you do go to the Malaysian Meteorological Department website, there will not be any hint that Malaysia is going through its worst flood in decades, with nearly 120,000 people already evacuated in six states.

All it says is either isolated rain, scattered rain, thunderstorms or no rain in any given area in Malaysia. Nothing to hint the incessant torrential rain deluging Malaysia this past week.

In fact, the number of people, equipment, aid and transport being scrambled to assist flood relief efforts will tell you a simple story – Malaysia was again caught unprepared for a disaster that has been likened to the 2005 Hurricane Katrina in the US.

As it is, the National Security Council’s (NSC) Portal Bencana (Disaster Portal) microsite only tells you of incidence of flood and its location, nothing else.

Details of weather for the next few days, tides, updated list of relief centres, food dumps, operations rooms and phone numbers are missing.

Any other information is trickling through radio and television channels as media companies scramble to put together lists of volunteers and aid requests for flood victims in the six states of Johor, Kelantan, Pahang, Perak, Perlis and Terengganu.

Yet, where is the disaster management plan to handle the current floods?

Last January, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said Putrajaya would improve four areas in handling natural disasters such as floods – early warning system, relief centres, food supply, and assets and logistics.

He also said the NSC would update the standard operating procedure to face extraordinary floods, while the Social Welfare Department would look into management of relief centres and raise stocks of food supplies when anticipating floods.

“The National Security Council will study, update and increase disaster management assets at the rescue agencies, such as trucks and boats to evacuate flood victims and the sick as well as despatch food and other necessities to the relief centres,” he had said.

Right. Where are these plans and where are the assets to take care of the flood victims now?

There is nothing on the NSC website to suggest this is even happening, or any announcement of the standard operating efforts to alleviate the sufferings of the flood victims.

Muhyiddin is in charge and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has cut short his vacation to personally handle the growing and worsening floods.

Second Finance Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah has announced a RM50 million emergency allocation, even as Malaysians from all walks of life contribute and volunteer to send aid to the flood victims.

Aid workers are frustrated, and as one expert told The Malaysian Insider, the major effort should have started much earlier, particularly detailed information about the high possibility of floods due to weather patterns.

“This time and age, there is no excuse to be caught unaware – it’s just attitude.

“This will go into history books as the Malaysian Katrina and how we were ill-prepared,” the expert said.

He has a point. Floods are an annual phenomenon, the only issue is how bad they can be.

The authorities should be able to predict, prepare and inform people that floods are expected, and list out the relief centres and available food stock.

Yet neither those in affected areas or Malaysians elsewhere knew what hit them at the tail-end of one of the worst years in the country’s history.

We need more than a transformation, we need reforms of attitudes and operating procedures.

And we need leaders and officials, from top to bottom, who must always be prepared for disasters and calamities, notwithstanding our fortune of being blessed from the worst of mother nature’s fury.

We need to learn lessons from our annual floods, have some common sense to ensure Malaysia is more than prepared to face this kind of disaster if it happens again. – December 26, 2014.