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Malaysia PM admits to slow response

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Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob surveys the damage caused by the floods on Tuesday. bernama/tHE STAR (MALAYSIA)

Malaysia PM admits to slow response

Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob has admitted there had been some delays and other weaknesses in rescue efforts in Selangor state following December 18’s floods, but was quick to add that it was the responsibility of all to ensure this does not happen again.

Ismail Sabri said no one party should be held accountable for the lack of coordination or other rescue efforts, and attributed the problem in Selangor due to a combination of factors.

He also pledged to improve this, adding that the focus for now was to help the victims and clean-up work.

“I want to be transparent and do not want to defend anyone because all of us should be responsible.

“Also, I can tell that these delays were not deliberate. There was a combination of factors why this happened in Selangor,” he said after visiting flood victims on December 21.

Elaborating, Ismail Sabri said rescue teams had a tough time getting into Selangor’s Taman Sri Muda township, which was the worst hit area in the state.

“They also had a tough time responding to victims stranded on rooftops as they could not see the addresses as the road signs had been submerged,” he said.

Ismail Sabri said the roads were also blocked by stranded vehicles.

“Also, although the Meteorological Services Department had said that we can expect heavy rains in Selangor, no one expected so much rain at one go.

“The amount of rainfall on that one day was similar to what the state would usually get in one month,” he said, adding that even residents, especially in Taman Sri Muda, had been caught off-guard by this.

He said agencies, especially the army, were also caught in a situation as they had to send their assets to several states affected by the floods.

Ismail Sabri said states such as on the east coast of the peninsula were better prepared as they faced floods every year.

“I had a meeting with all Mentris Besar [first ministers] and chief ministers whose states were affected this morning, and the problem seems to affect only Selangor.

“So, we must remember this is not only the responsibility of the Federal Government, but also of the state government, and our frontliners at the district levels,” he said.

Ismail Sabri said the situation was bad in Selangor as floodwaters began rising rapidly in several areas at the same time.

“So yes, there was a lot of confusion in Selangor on day one of the floods.

“In fact, I got messages on my cellphone from many people, and I forwarded these to the relevant people for prompt action,” he said.

Ismail Sabri said he had also called a meeting with 13 ministers on December 20 on ways to assist flood victims, particularly in Selangor.

“We are going to mobilise more assets including 41 boats, use pumps to drain out stagnant water, and to send food to the victims in Selangor.

He said that if need be, the authorities would also use fishermen’s boats for this.

THE STAR (MALAYSIA)/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

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