Calls for strict audit that government had spent RM800 million on flood victims as Kelantan entitled to ask where the money had gone as it should get RM500 – RM600 million as the worst flood-stricken state

Today, accompanied by the former Bersih co-chairman and patron of Negara-Ku, Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan, DAP MPs Anthony Loke (Seremban), Liew Chin Tong (Kluang), DAP State Assembly members Lee Chin Chen (Ketari- Pahang), Wong May Ing (Pantai Remis) and DAP and social activists in four FWDs, with a container of essential supplies for Manek Urai, I made my third flood victims relief mission to Kelantan.

We left Kuala Lumpur at 5 am, first stop at Bentong for breakfast, arriving in Gua Musang before 10 am, where we were given a briefing by DAP and PAS Gua Musang leaders on the floods devastation in Gua Musang beginning on Winter Solstice (Dongzhi festival) on Dec. 22, 2014.

Gua Musang, which literally means “Cave of the Civet”, is the largest of the 10 districts in Kelantan and Gua Musang town had never experienced serious flooding before.

It therefore took the people in Gua Musang by complete surprise when Gua Musang, together with Kuala Krai (another district which had never suffered serious flooding before) became the two worst flood-stricken areas in the December 2014 floods catastrophe.

When we visited Gua Musang town, the people were busy valiantly trying to clean up their houses, shops and inns – a puny effort compared to the enormous ravages caused by the floods.

It was two weeks since Gua Musang had been stricken by the unprecedented floods catastrophe, with water as high as 10 to 12 ft, submerging the whole town but Gua Musang still looked forlorn and desolate.

From the slow pace of recovery that I saw in Gua Musang, the Kelantan Mentri Besar Datuk Ahmad Yaakob may be right when he said that Kelantan will need at least six months to fully recover from the devastation of the worst floods that hit the state in the past few weeks.

But six months to recover from the devastation of the floods catastrophe is too long and will impose great problems and grave burdens on the flood victims in Kelantan.

This is why there must be a total change of mindset of the Federal, state and local authorities to ensure that this recovery period is slashed from “at least six months” to two months, and why a declaration of state of emergency to centralize and mobilise all available resources to help the floods victims in Gua Musang and other parts of Kelantan to start life anew after the devastation of the floods is urgent and imperative.

During the worst of the floods catastrophe, an emergency is needed to save lives. In the post-flood scenario, an emergency is needed to restore living and ensure livelihood – to help the flood victims rebuild life and business anew in the shortest possible time.

From Gua Musang, we left for Manek Urai where the container of essential supplies was down-loaded at the PAS Manek Urai Relief Centre, and we met up with the PAS MP for Kuala Krai, Dr. Mohd Hatta Ramli, PAS Vice President and Kelantan State Assemblyman for Salor Datuk Husam Musa and former Kelantan Assembly Speaker and Kota Bharu MP, Dato’ Wan Abdul Rahim Wan Abdullah.

It is Ground Zero in Manek Urai, where the devastation of the floods catastrophe was most bleak and desolate as if there had been a tsunami or the aftermath of a war zone.

We visited Kg Manjor, where only 15 out of 220 houses survived the floods catastrophe, and a living testimony of the power and might of Mother Nature when it expressed its fury at the despoliation of the environment.

Everywhere we saw houses destroyed after being flung about like toys by angry floods, with a chair left on a roof as evidence of the height of the waters, and vehicles thrown around, some atop another vehicle while others somersaulted.

The villagers of Kg Manjor were lucky to be able to flee to higher ground, where they spent five nights and days until the floods subsided – without water, food, power or contact for the first two days!

There were other Ground Zero devastating damages from the floods catastrophe, like Manek Urai Lama, Kg Karangan, Kg Laloh, Kg Dabong, Kg Kemubu.

I am not aware that any Cabinet Ministers, including the Prime Minister or Deputy Prime Minister, had visited any of these Ground Zero zones of the floods catastrophe in Kuala Krai.

My visit to Ground Zero zones has reinforced my view that an emergency must be declared to help the flood-stricken victims to rebuild and start life anew, that the 150,000 in the armed forces should be mobilized to help a million flood victims to start life anew, not only to provide security and prevent the outbreak of diseases post-floods, but to help restore essential utilities like safe water and electricity, erect temporary shelter for the flood victims and to allow them to start life anew in shortest possible time.

I am shocked that the Deputy Finance Minister, Datuk Ahmad Maslan announced yesterday that the government had so far spent about RM800 million through the National Security Council to help victims in states affected by floods in the provision of food supply, logistics and cleaning houses of victims.

As Kelantan is the worst flood-stricken state in the floods catastrophe, the bulk of the expenditure, say RM 500 million – RM600 million, should have been spent in the state.

But where has this vast sum of money gone to as no one in Kelantan would feel that the Federal Government had spent RM500 million to RM600 million in Kelantan in the past two weeks of the floods catastrophe to help flood victims.

I have visited Kota Bharu three times, been in Kuala Krai twice, even in the Ground Zero zones of Manek Urai as well as Gua Musang, and I definitely do not feel or sense that RM500 million to RM600 million had been spent in Kelantan in relief efforts for the flood victims.

Let Maslan reveal out of this RM800 million, how much had been spent in Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang and Perak – so far the worst flood-hit states.

There should be strict audit of the so-called RM800 million already spent to help flood victims, and the other expenditures still to be made, to ensure that there is no hanky-panky whatsoever.

No money should be spared to help the flood victims, but not a sen should be wasted.

All government expenditures spent in the floods catastrophe must directly benefit the flood victims and not the “floods” barons, entrepreneurs or cronies.

For a start, let the Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin announce that every student affected by the floods catastrophe will be provided free two sets of school uniforms, text books, exercise books, and all other necessary school supplies, which will be evidence of such expenditures directly benefitting the flood victims and not some chimerical figure of RM800 million said to be spent on flood victims but without them being the direct beneficiaries.

There should be no rigid requirement for student to wear school uniform at least for the first month of school for the flood-stricken areas, until every student have been supplied with two sets of free school uniforms.

On Sunday night, I sent an email to the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak on my five-point action plan on the floods catastrophe which have caused 23 dead, evacuation of a quarter of million people, with a million people adversely affected by the floods, and losses running into billions of ringgit.

I also asked for an urgent meeting with the Prime Minister before the Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, as Malaysians expect the Cabinet to make important decisions on the floods catastrophe especially with Ministers on vacation abroad and the Cabinet had not met for 20 days – including during the worst periods of the December 2014 floods catastrophe.

As the Prime Minister is suffering from E Coli after floods visits, I am not pressing for a meeting with Najib before the Cabinet meeting tomorrow.

I wish him speedy recovery to be able to chair the Cabinet meeting tomorrow to ensure that the Ministers can take collective decisions on the five-point action plan which I had outlined to him in my email, namely:

(1) the declaration of a state of emergency for the flood-stricken states;

(2) the formation of a BN-PR Joint Action Council on Floods Catastrophe;

(3) Convening of a Special Parliament this month on the Floods Catastrophe which can also discuss the deferment of the implementation of GST so as not to add further burdens on the flood victims;

(4) Doubling of the RM500 million allocation for relief of flood victims to RM1 billion to enable every flood victim whose livelihood/business had been wiped out by the floods catastrophe to apply for interest free loans, ranging from RM1,000 to RM250,l000 to start life and business anew, and

(5) Establishment of a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the weaknesses and failures of the Floods Disaster Preparations Plans to provide relief and help to the flood victims of the current floods catastrophe.

I hope the Cabinet tomorrow will have good news for the million flood victims, especially those in the worst-hit areas like Gua Musang and Kuala Krai in Kelantan and Temerloh and Mentakab in Pahang.

In fact, it would be a good idea if the Cabinet tomrrow makes it compulsory for every Minister, including the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, to visit Ground Zero areas in Manek Urai, in particular “devastation” areas like Kg Manjor and Kg Maneki Urai Lama, for such visits will make Ministers not only more knowledgeable but more humble and committed to ensure that mega flood relief expenditures directly benefit the flood victims and not the “flood” barons, entrepreneurs cronies.

(Media Conference Statement at Pengkalan Chepa Airport, Kota Bharu on Tuesday, January 6, 2014 at 5 pm)

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