KUALA LUMPUR: A National Disaster Prevention Day should be declared as a reminder for Malaysians not to take their safety for granted, says Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said (pic).
"I look at the nations facing disaster challenges such as the Philippines, Japan, Indonesia and Taiwan.
"Some have even declared a specific day, which we could follow, to be a National Disaster Prevention Day.
"The Minister in charge of the National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma) could target December for a date as a reminder to all Malaysians, that we cannot take the environment and our location in the housing estates for granted," the Pengerang MP said while taking part in debates during the one-day special Dewan Rakyat sitting on Thursday (Jan 20) on the recent year-end monsoon floods.
Earlier, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob informed the House that according to police figures, 55 fatalities were recorded due to the unusual floods involving 40 men, 12 women, two boys and one girl, while two more victims are reported to be missing.
Meanwhile, Azalina said that it was crucial that Malaysians are better educated and involved in disaster management efforts.
She added that data on high risk areas needed to be gathered and community focal points identified to deal with disasters.
"It cannot be denied that year after year, disaster management will become a way of life, especially with drastic development happening such as in Malaysia," she said.
She cited Japan as an example where its society constantly undergoes earthquake drills to better prepare them for a disaster.
She said that it was also crucial to develop a first response mechanism at the rural levels.
She said that those under the village security and development committee (JKKK), Rukun Tetangga or housing residents association could act as the first responders.
"It would take a longer time for those from the agencies such as Nadma to respond, especially in the rural areas which are further away," she added.
Azalina also suggested that the Federal government look at decentralising and making local councils more accountable.
Although acknowledging that local government elections were still a sensitive issue, she said it could be considered as part of discussions under the memorandum of understanding signed between the government and Pakatan Harapan opposition coalition aimed at reforms.
She said such a move would allow communities to better voice their views on development in their respective areas.
Azalina also suggested that insurance coverage be extended to cover vehicles damaged by floods.