Struggling to find common ground


  • Nation
  • Saturday, 29 Jan 2005

BY FOO YEE PING

PHUKET: Senior officials from 45 countries gathered here ahead of a ministerial meeting aimed at developing a regional tsunami early warning arrangement for the Indian Ocean and South-East Asia are struggling to find common ground. 

The officials at their meeting yesterday could not reach an agreement on matters related to expertise, technology and which country should play host to the system. 

Officials who attended the meeting said it was now up to the ministers to reach a common ground, as there were several suggestions on how to implement an early warning system.  

Delegates from the 45 countries and 14 international organisations held the latest series of meetings aimed at preventing a repeat of the Dec 26 catastrophe which killed more than 280,000 people. 

The meeting, called the Ministerial Meeting on Regional Co-operation on Tsunami Early Warning Arrangements, is supposed to address issues on detection, decision-making and dissemination of warnings; plus questions on how an early warning system can be linked to existing systems. 

Malaysia will be represented by Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk Seri Dr Jamaluddin Jarjis at the ministerial meeting today.  

He said last night that Malaysia would proceed “full steam” ahead with its own early warning system and that the Cabinet had approved US$5mil (RM19mil) for the plan. 

“We are targeting for it to be up and running by end of the year,” he said, adding that he believed a political will could bind all the countries together in developing one system which could be hooked up to others. 

He said Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra conveyed his delight over Malaysia’s participation at the meeting. 

Earlier, the delegates were taken to Khao Lak where the calm scene at a temporary shelter betrayed the horror that the tsunami survivors went through a month ago.  

Families huddled together under tents, eagerly chatting with the delegates and there were even a few stalls selling food and drinks. 

The delegates were also taken for a quick tour at the worst-hit beachfront. 

“About 95% of the rubbish has been cleared,” said Phang Nga governor Anuwat Maytheewibulwut, explaining the almost bare land that surrounded the place. 

Anuwat, who had earlier attended a ceremony for the dead, said that many of the victims had been swept into the sea. 

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