Firefighters all geared up for floods, polls or not, says Reezal

PUTRAJAYA: The Fire and Rescue Department is gearing up to face any eventuality arising from inclement weather expected at the end of the year as no one can be sure when floods will hit the country, says Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican (pic).

The Housing and Local Government Minister, however, gave an assurance that his men-in-red, his codename for the Fire and Rescue personnel, were well prepared.

“Since I have no idea when the floods or the general election will happen, I will have to be prepared for both.

“As the minister in charge of the Fire and Rescue Department, I told them to expect the worst. At the same time, as a party member, I will oblige if the elections happen.

“However, I am confident the general election will not be held during the floods but we will never know when the floods happen, will we?” said Reezal who is also an Umno Supreme member.

He said the concern over the possibility of having a general election during floods was among issues raised during the Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, but no decision was made.

“Any (political) party would know it is illogical to have elections during floods,” he said.

Transport Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong also said the Cabinet had discussed preparations for the elections as well as facing possible flooding.

“We must always be ready for floods, whether or not they coincide with the elections,” he told reporters yesterday after unveiling a public audit programme on the infrastructure operated by Prasarana Malaysia Bhd.

“We don’t know when the election will take place, whether it is this year or next. But failure to prepare for flooding will bring grave harm,” he said.

On seat allocations among component parties, the MCA president said there was no problem that could not be resolved.

Reezal, who was met during a briefing session with the Fire and Rescue Department on their preparedness for the northeast monsoon, said almost 30,000 personnel would be on standby.

Officers in flood-prone areas have had their leave frozen.

He also said he has instructed the department to look at acquiring more sophisticated assets and technology for rescue missions, including remote lifebuoys.

“These assets are important not only to save the victims but also the personnel from dangers like strong underwater current.

“We hope to have at least two remote lifebuoys in every state,” he said, adding that each lifebuoy cost RM18,000.

The Sabah Civil Defence Force (APM) is also prepared to face any flood disaster in some 520 locations in the state.

“We have formed teams to scour the flood-prone areas. We trained local communities to respond to flood situations and informed them of safe locations and temporary shelters,” said APM deputy chief commissioner Dr Norhafifi Ismail.

He said that among the flood hotspots the APM had identified in Sandakan were Kampung Gum-Gum, Kampung Jaya Bakti and Kampung Semawang.

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