Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob has pinned the blame on the Selangor state government and the people for causing delays in the rescue works when the devastating floods hit several parts of Malaysia last month.
In the Dewan Rakyat yesterday (20 January), Ismail said the Meteorological Department had issued 6 significant weather warnings leading up to the 18 December of downpour and flooding, but these were ignored.
He said the warnings were not taken seriously by “certain quarters” as they assumed that only states in the east coast will be badly affected.
“Following the extraordinary floods, the situation was chaotic on the first day. The flood management in Selangor meant rescue teams had faced difficulties to carry out their operations due to the complexity of urban flooding,”
“In fact, Selangor’s flood management showed no drastic improvement on the second and third day, to the point there was dissatisfaction among the victims due to delayed rescue operations and food distribution.” he said.
He then said the slow response of the state and district disaster management committees had forced him to take several measures, including chairing a number of meetings to obtain updates and discuss measures, even though it is not his responsibility to chair the flood meeting in Selangor.
Meanwhile, he also acknowledged that the volume of rain and the extent of the flooding had taken many by surprise.
Later in his speech, Ismail appeared to blame the flood victims for slowing down rescue efforts too.
“Starting the evening of 18 December, our rescue agencies have actually begun mobilising their teams to evacuate victims, but they face difficulties as the day was turning dark, and with many refusing to leave their houses at the time.”
“Many victims gave the excuse that they wanted to save their properties, the temporary relief centres (PPS) are too far, worried that their house will be broken into, as well as concerns of Covid-19 infections at the crowded centres.”
“Following this, the flood water level rose sharply, and many people were trapped and needed immediate help.” he said.
Ismail added that the rescue efforts were further hampered by the vehicles that were trapped along the main road, blocking rescuers from entering residential areas.
He also said that a lot of the addresses given by the flood victims could not be found as their houses have been flooded and the rescuers from outside Selangor who were mobilised were not familiar with the affected area and required a guide.
According to Ismail Sabri, a total of 38,113 families involving 136,030 victims have been evacuated since the start of the flooding.