Will Ismail Sabri sack Ministers who defy his instruction to cancel their leave abroad and return immediately to be with the people who are facing hardship?

I commend the Prime Minister, Ismail Sabri for his cancellation of the year-end leave application from his cabinet Ministers until after the flood situation had passed.

Will Ismail Sabri sack Ministers who defy his instruction to cancel their leave abroad and return immediately to be with the people who are facing hardship?

According to the Prime Minister’s instruction, Ministers who have not yet gone on holiday are to cancel their leave until after this flood problem is over. Ministers who are overseas are to return immediately and be with the people who are facing hardship.

How many of the Ministers are overseas on their end-of-the-year holidays?

There is no reason for keeping this information an “official secret” as the Malaysian public are entitled to this information so that they could ascertain how many and who are the Ministers who are defying the Prime Minister on the cancellation of their year-end leave.

This will be a test whether we have a Malaysian Prime Minister who cannot even exercise discipline among his Ministers.

The floods have killed 41 people thus far, while eight people are missing.

After hitting the West Coast of the peninsula and Klang Valley, heavy rains and floods are expected to batter the East Coast, with Pahang among the states at risk of worse flooding.

Will the ministers who are abroad be exempted from quarantine requirements once they return as fully vaccinated Malaysians must currently be quarantined for seven days at home.

Furthermore, those returning from high-risk countries where the Omicron variant is spreading are required to wear a digital monitoring device. Will this apply to the Ministers?

I welcome the Prime Minister’s increase of the government contribution to RM10,000 to the next of kin of each victim who died in the recent floods that hit the country.

The Federal Government should also approve the proposal of the DAP MP for Klang, Charles Santiago to increase from RM1,000 cash aid per family to RM10,000 as the flood victims have lost everything – their furniture, personal documents, kitchenware as well as their money – with the option of additional aid on a case by case basis.

The government should not only provide a sustained relief package but also jump-start the economy by giving businesses affected by the floods RM1,500 in rental relief for two months as the small businesses were just starting to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.

But it is shocking that Ministers are blaming the people for the floods disaster for not heeding the government’s weather warnings instead of admitting their mismanagement blunders.

The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Abdul Latiff Ahmad, who heads the National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma), said the Selangor floods serve as “a lesson in disaster management” so that weaknesses can be improved, including how to manage flood situation in high density residential areas where flooding is a rare occurrence and taking heed of warnings by the meteorological department.

The Environment and Water Minister, Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man, blamed the people for having failed to heed the government’s weather warnings because they were under the impression that floods only occur on the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia.

As a result, when floods hit areas beyond the east coast last week, they were unprepared to face it.

However, checks by Malaysiakini found that very little warning was given before the floods occurred.

The flooding was associated with Tropical Depression 29W, which made landfall near Kuantan on Dec 17 and caused severe flooding across Central Peninsular Malaysia. MetMalaysia made no mention of the incoming weather phenomenon as it developed over several days on the South China Sea.

The last time Malaysia suffered a direct hit from a tropical depression – essentially a weak typhoon – was in 2017, which brought severe flooding to Penang.

However, MetMalaysia did issue several continuous heavy rain warnings and thunderstorm warnings in the run-up to the flood.

The continuous heavy rain warnings come in three tiers depending on severity – alert (yellow), severe (orange), and danger (red). It is typically accompanied by a colour-coded map highlighting the affected areas.

“Alert” means heavy rain is expected to occur within one to three days, or continuous rain is anticipated but not expected to be heavy.

“Severe” means continuous heavy rain is expected. This is defined as rain exceeding six hours with total rainfall of at least 60mm.

“Danger” means rainfall exceeding 240mm per day is expected.

Checks by Malaysiakini found that MetMalaysia issued its first continuous rain warning for Selangor at 3.45pm on Dec 17, but it was only an “alert” level and only lasted until the next day. Prior to that, a “danger” warning was also issued for Kemaman in Terengganu and Kuantan in Pahang..

At 2pm on Dec 18, however, the warning level in Selangor was escalated directly from “alert” to “danger”.

Malaysiakini reported: “Based on eyewitness accounts, many low-lying areas of the Klang Valley such as parts of Klang and Shah Alam were already flooded since the wee hours of that morning or even the night before.

“At the time the ‘danger’ warning was issued, Taman Sri Muda was already impassable even to heavy vehicles due to the severe flooding.

“Flood warnings, meanwhile, fall under the jurisdiction of the Department of Irrigation and Drainage.

“It issued several flood warnings for the East Coast in the run-up to the weekend’s flooding, namely for the districts of Setiu in Terengganu, Kuala Krai, Jeli, Machang, Tanah Mera, and Gua Musang in Kelantan, and Jerantut in Sungai Tembeling. These were predicted to occur between Dec 16 and Dec 17.

“For the West Coast, however, the first mention of trouble only came on Dec 18 at 5.30pm, when it shared a MetMalaysia continuous heavy rain warning issued 30 minutes earlier.”

It is stupid and unproductive for Ministers to indulge in the blame game instead of raising the efficiency and effectiveness of flood disaster management as many ministers and relevant departments are sleeping on the job with the right hand not knowing what the left hand in government is doing, aggravating a very chaotic situation like the spat as to who is the Selangor Chairman of the National Security Council and the discrepancy between the Prime Minister and NADMA on how many times cash aid will given to flood victims as highlighted by the DAP MP for Segambut Hannah Yeoh.

Is Prime Minister Ismail Sabri in charge of his Cabinet and government?

As former Minister Rafidah Aziz has written:

“Managing disasters require effective, and expeditiously executed, rescue and relief programmes, and well-planned rehabilitation, reconstruction and community revival measures.

“There should be no bureaucratic processes that hinder and constrain, no fanfare for the sake of publicity, no PR/comms job for image building, no hidden agendas or motives, no paying money for consultants, and such.

“Time is of the essence.

“Floods and climate change, as also time and tides, wait for no one.”

When will Prime Minister buck up if he is not to go down in history as the most incompetent Malaysian Prime Minister who brought kakistocracy to the country?

(Media Statement by DAP MP for Iskandar Puteri Lim Kit Siang in Gelang Patah on Saturday, 25th December 2021)

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