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Saturday December 23, 2006

Reports of looting surface


SEGAMAT: The ugly side of human nature has started to emerge from the floods that have hit several states – there are reports of looting and people are claiming that certain parties, including uniformed personnel, have asked for money before rescuing victims. 

As the floodwaters rose, reports of looting at shops as well as the Courts Mammoth outlet here were starting to surface. 

A supervisor from the outlet at Jalan Genuang said that only expensive items like digital cameras had gone missing. 

Lorries have also been seen going around collecting metal pieces during the day. 

TAKING ADVANTAGE: Some people are seen carrying things that have floated out of a supermarket, which was believed to have been broken into, in Segamat yesterday. — Bernamapic
Several people have complained that there have also been instances where flood victims were asked to pay to be rescued. 

Flood victim Abu Rashid Maidin said he had to pay a boatman who came around with a boat to rescue his family who had been stranded for two days. 

“I was desperate and did not know what to do. There was no way of getting help from the authorities as the telephone lines were down. My mobile phone was not working,'' the 34-year-old said.  

Abu Rashid said he and several others paid the boatman between RM50 and RM100 to be sent to the nearest evacuation centre. 

“I told the boatman that my family needed help and my wallet was missing. The boatman even told me that he was giving me a discount as others were willing to pay more,” he said. 

He had to borrow the money from his neighbour to pay for the 10-minute ride. 

Housewife Sandy Lim, 42, claimed that soldiers had asked her neighbour to pay RM4,000 to rescue her two-year-old granddaughter who was trapped along with her babysitter in the attic of a single-storey house in Kampung Abdullah. 

“The flood came so quickly she (the neighbour) did not have time to collect her granddaughter who was being cared for by a babysitter. Her son was trapped in his shop elsewhere. 

“How is she to raise RM4,000 when all the banks are closed?” asked Lim. 

However, the babysitter and the four children she was caring for were rescued by others later.  

Lim also claimed that she had heard about civilians with boats who were “cashing in” on the tragedy by charging between RM300 and RM400 to rescue victims. 

“I don’t blame them for trying to make money but they are also taking advantage of people in a life-and-death situation,” she said. 

Lim, who lives in Kuala Lumpur, said she was stranded in Segamat when she had come to spend the school holidays with her mother in the town. 

Acting Segamat OCPD Deputy Supt Ahmad Sukarno Mohd Zahari said he had heard about a boatman taking advantage of the floods by charging people, but added that the police had not received such report so far. 

“I hope people will come forward and lodge reports or give us proper information of such activities to enable us to take immediate action,” he said. 

He urged those with information to contact the Segamat district police headquarters operation room at 07-934 2222 or 07-931 9331 or 07-221 2999. 

To looters, Bukit Aman Deputy Internal Security director Deputy Comm Datuk Mohamad Muda has this to say: “Beware, you will be arrested on sight.” 

He issued the warning to ensure that people did not take advantage of the thousands of abandoned properties in flood-stricken areas.  

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