By Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye
KOTA KINABALU: The admission by Prime Minister Dato Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob that there were delays and other weaknesses in rescue efforts during the floods is welcomed with hope that the Government would be addressing these issues seriously and will not recur in future.
The shortcomings and failures have been highlighted by so many netizens in social media and continue to be expressed by disappointed people in the affected areas in several states.
In some affected areas, rescue and relief efforts by the authorities were so slow or not available that initiative was instead taken by the rakyat, including NGOs, churches, temples, and suraus. In Taman Sri Muda in Selangor, the clarion call of the community effort was “Kita Jaga Kita”.
The Prime Minister was however quick to say that no one party should be made responsible. That’s true. The blame and responsibility should squarely be shared by many departments.
These departments or agencies include the Meteorological Department which had failed to give adequate and timely warning of the impending storm.
Other agencies are those charged with the responsibility to ensure an efficient drainage system, smooth and speedy welfare assistance, and the provision of food and other relief on an urgent basis.
In fact, the responsibility should be that of every Ministry, for nothing is more important than meeting the people’s needs at their hour of need.
Please do not offer lame excuses for the authorities’ failures. For instance, it was reported in the media that rescue teams in Selangor had a tough time responding to victims stranded on rooftops as they could not see the addresses as the road signs had been submerged.
Please get real. You don’t need road signs to identify people who are clearly visible on rooftops!
Some citizens are asking why the authorities have not responded to previous cases of flooding. One villager told a TV station reporter that her house was flooded three times in recent times but no action was taken by the authorities to improve the drainage in her neighbourhood.
Hers is not an isolated case.
These issues could have and should have been discussed in the Dewan Rakyat which is after all the Hall of the People. It is unfortunate that the Speaker Tan Sri Azhar Azizan Harun disallowed debate on the matter.
Who was he protecting, and why? Was he motivated by political expediency?
Whatever the reason, his action cannot be justified.
It is time for the Government to revise downward its 90 percent report card