No bias when it comes to floods, says Zahid

PUTRAJAYA: All states facing floods will be given equal and fair treatment, regardless of whether they are aligned to the Federal Government or not.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said he had issued this reminder because floods affect all the people and it is the government agencies’ responsibility to extend help to everyone.

With floods forecast to start on Dec 17, Ahmad Zahid said he shared Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s approach in placing the people and nation first.

“This is not a matter of politics. It affects the people. I want agencies to give fair treatment to all flood-affected states,” he told reporters after chairing the national disaster management committee meeting yesterday.

On flood preparations, Ahmad Zahid said although the flood warning was just a forecast, agencies had been directed to be on alert.

“Whether it will happen or not remains to be seen but as a responsible government, we must be ready to help those affected, should the waters rise,” he said.

A weather expert has forecast that the country will experience significant flooding within the next three days due to heavy monsoon rain triggered by the active La Nina and negative Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) phenomena.

National Antarctica Research Centre meteorological expert Prof Datuk Dr Azizan Abu Samah was quoted in reports as saying that while the monsoon rain had created strong winds over the South China Sea, the La Nina and IOD phenomena had also caused an increase of rain resulting in flooding in the east coast of the peninsula.

The Deputy Prime Minister said that according to MetMalaysia, three states that might be affected were Kelantan, Terengganu and Perak.

Other areas to be on standby for floods are the east coast of Sabah and the west coast of Sarawak, which is expected to experience floods in January and February.

The Deputy Prime Minister said the meeting also agreed there was a need to ensure long-term solutions to floods, including to have flood mitigation plans in place.

Although the government knew of the high cost and long-term planning which could span until 2100, he said an approach to the problem must be taken from now and not “as and when”.

He said some of the flood-relief plans include the RM15bil long-term flood mitigation plan by the previous administration.

However, the Prime Minister had ordered a review of projects worth RM7bil after it was found that approvals were given without a tender process.

Ahmad Zahid also dismissed talk that the National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma) would be dissolved and the National Security Council would take over the role.

He said Nadma would remain the coordinating agency for disasters, including floods.

“I created Nadma, I won’t close it down,” he said.

Nadma is an agency under the Prime Minister’s Department.

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