Flood victims trapped on roofs, but Govt too busy playing politics and rescuing PM’s son-in-law...
At least 17 people have died and over 60,000 displaced, while some victims were still stranded on Monday (Dec 20) – three days after torrential rain triggered severe flooding in eight states of Malaysia. Yet, the clueless Ismail Sabri government appeared directionless, running around like a headless chicken as anger and frustration exploded over rescue efforts that were too slow.
Adding salt to injury, Halimah Ali, a politician from Islamist party PAS, blasted a shocking tweet – people should be grateful that “only a few people had died” in the flood, and told people to stop “maksiat” (vices) and minimize “sins”. Her tweet suggested that the flood and deaths were due to vices and sins committed by the people in all the 8 states in the Peninsula Malaysia.
Perhaps PAS, one of three Malay political parties in the ruling government, did not realize that Kelantan, the state under the Islamist party’s rule almost uninterrupted since 1959, has been hit with flooding almost every year. Does that mean the God was angry because the people of Kelantan and the Islamic government of PAS have continuously committed endless vices and sins?
Since PAS likes to play God whenever it suits them, let’s talk about divine retribution. One can easily argue that since the democratically-elected multiracial government of Pakatan Harapan was toppled by traitor Muhyiddin, who formed a backdoor Perikatan Nasional regime with corrupt UMNO and extremist PAS, the God has been punishing the governments ever since.
When Muhyiddin became the backdoor prime minister, his administration was plagued with Coronavirus pandemic. After Ismail took over from Muhyiddin, the new government is now being plagued with severe flooding. Are these not signs of divine retribution? If the current so-called Malay-centric government is legitimate and practise good administration, why didn’t the God bless it?
In truth, the damage and death toll in the flooding can be minimized, the same way the Covid-19 cases and the excessive death toll can be avoided. However, both Mahiaddin and Ismail governments were not only clueless and incompetent, but were too arrogant and busy playing politics instead of handling the pandemic, managing the economy and running the country efficiently.
Whether it is Perikatan Nasional or Barisan Nasional (they actually haven’t figured which the current government belongs to), it is still old wine in a new bottle. After all, PM Ismail Sabri retained the super bloated Cabinet of 73 ministers and deputy ministers from the previous Muhyiddin regime. Worse, the turtle-egg Sabri has appointed 3 advisors – costing RM50,000 a month each.
Mahiaddin had cooked up his excuse to justify his mishandling of the Covid-19 pandemic, arguing that the country had never experienced such a pandemic before. It was after all once in 100 years kind of pandemic. But what Ismail has to say about the latest flooding? Hilariously, the incompetent government also took the easy and lazy way out by claiming that it was also a 1-in-100-year flooding.
Actually, that was not true. Malaysia had experienced many major floods such as the 2014-2015 floods that affected 200,000 people and killed 21. It was described as the worst floods in decades, despite the RM2 billion SMART Tunnel designed to prevent disastrous flash floods in the city centre. It was also during this disaster that then-PM Najib Razak was busy golfing with Barack Obama in Hawaii.
Even before the modern time, the worst flash flood disaster happened in January 1971 when 32 people were killed and 180,000 people were affected. Obviously, the government lied when it said the disaster was a 1-in-100-year flooding. The lies were to hoodwink gullible people that it was not the government’s fault that it could not mobilize resources and assets to rescue the people.
In reality, the prime minister had no idea how serious the disaster was from the beginning. The heavy rainfall started on Friday (Dec 17), but it was only after the Mother Nature left a trail of destruction the next day, as well as heavy criticisms, for the premier to respond. The best part was, even after PM Ismail ordered the relevant ministries and government agencies to respond, there was still zero actions.
Ismail Sabri, who self-declared his administration had achieved 90% of the KPIs (key performance indicators) in its 100 days, subsequently self-proclaimed on Sunday (Dec 19) that the critical issues of inadequate food and stranded flood victims were fully solved. But more than 8 hours later, hundreds of people – old, young and infants – were still trapped on rooftops.
Why hadn’t the Meteorological Department provided sufficient early warnings, despite knowing in advance that Typhoon Rai (Odette), which caused the crisis, had earlier pounded the Philippines? If indeed the government agency knew about the coming typhoon, why hadn’t the relevant authorities, especially the army, fully prepared for the disaster?
Senior and Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein has been extremely quiet throughout the disaster. Exactly why military assets were not deployed promptly to rescue and assist the flood victims? Reports on the ground said army or police were nowhere to be seen for at least three days, leaving ordinary people – volunteer groups and individuals – helping their own kind instead.
For example, Kembara Kitchen was already in full swing in distributing hot meals and packed meals to flood victims when the government gave the lame excuse that the water level was too high hence preventing rescue work and food distribution. Don’t the police and military have assets like boats, helicopters and specialised teams trained to handle such disaster?
Interestingly, the police would have no issue deploying helicopters and drones to fight and intimidate protestors whenever there is a demonstration against government corruption and brutality. But when thousands of desperate people needed help after more than 24 hours without food, it could not even send a loaf of bread to the flood victims.
Of course, Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s son-in-law Jovian Mandagie was allowed to use a government helicopter to escape the flood while hundreds remained stranded on rooftops. Taman Sri Nanding in Hulu Langat saw about 100 people, including pregnant women, babies and elderly, forced to climb onto the roof of a prayer hall – waiting for more than 12 hours to be rescued.
There was also the story of a paralysed man stuck in a house with rising water around him, and a woman and her child on the boot of a stranded car waiting to be rescued. The situation was so bad that hungry and angry residents of Taman Seri Muda, the area hit hardest by the flash flood, had resorted to looting several grocery chain stores for food and essentials.
Obviously PM Sabri lied when he claimed inadequate food and stranded flood victims were fully solved because the looting, something that had never happened before, occurred on Monday (Dec 20) – 3 days after the flooding. To shut the Opposition’s mouth, the disgraced Dewan Rakyat (Lower House) Speaker Azhar Azizan Harun was ordered to disallow debate on the massive flooding.
To make matters worse, while PAS Islamist party tried to link the disaster to God’s retribution over vices and sins, two of the biggest Malay political parties in the ruling government – UMNO and Bersatu – decided to proceed with their annual meetings, despite the disaster. Ismail Sabri only held a press conference at 11pm on Saturday night, after his party UMNO concluded its annual meeting.
Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu or PPBM), led by former PM Muhyiddin, had even ended the party’s meeting with fireworks. The party’s deputy president, Youth and Sports Minister Ahmad Faizal Azumu, on the other hand, was holding a grand ceremony – huge digital boards and lengthy speech – in conjunction with the launch of a “Volunteer Squad” to help the flood victims.
As expected, not a single member of the ministry’s squad could be found at any flood location. It was all about seeking publicity and wasting public funds. It’s a mystery how the ministry scored 90% in its recent KPI when its minister believed it was a jolly good idea to hold an official ceremony for a flood relief drive while thousands of desperate victims were crying to be rescued.
It didn’t help that state governments like Selangor allowed excessive development without a proper long-term solution for floods and drainage systems. As of Tuesday (Dec 21), the floodwaters in many housing areas have not receded although the rain has stopped for the past 2 days. Like it or not, at the end of the day, it’s always the civilians who can be dependable in time of disaster.
So much for “Keluarga Malaysia” (Malaysia Family), a political propaganda of Ismail Sabri to create a false perception of a caring government. The floods have shown that when disaster strikes, family members like his son-in-law will get the special privilege to be rescued. Even politicking takes precedence over saving the lives of ordinary people. - FT