An Avoidable Tragedy

By Mahathir Mohd Rais

A series of terrible floods and flash floods has affected several parts of Malaysia. According to Asean Centre for Humanitarian Assistance around 62,999 citizens of Malaysia have been affected by this devastating incident. 
Even while I am writing this, the numbers of death and people affected by the floods are still increasing. My team and I are trying our best to help those who are in need to ensure that their basic needs such as food, water and personal hygienic items could be delivered to them during these stressful times.
It is very evident that the whole situation was not handled decently by the government. The people on the ground are angry, upset and tired at the incompetency of the government. They have every right to feel that way. 

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Hashtags such as #KerajaanPembunuh and #KerajaanGagal were trending for the past few days. 
The anger demonstrated by the citizens were relevant due to the lack of urgency or work done by the government as a whole. 
So, the question is, what went wrong?
First and foremost, the extremeness of the situation could have been avoided by thousands of citizens if only the government were to listen to the Malaysian Meteorological Department (MetMalaysia) since Mid-2021. 
This department is directly under the Ministry of Environment and Water.
It is very irresponsible for the government to ignore such data given by MetMalaysia because it is well-known that floods happen almost every year in this country. 
The government might say that familiarity with the calculated floods is the reason why they did not take this matter into account but truthfully, with the on-going pandemic, this is actually the perfect time to look into these things. 
The main rationale is to be sure that calculated natural disasters such as floods won’t be increasing the daily cases of COVID-19. It is very clear that the government has failed to look at this from this point of view. 
Every situation in today’s day and age must be looked upon from a ‘new norms’ perspective.
The council preached about the new norms almost everyday yet it seems to only be relevant on one part of the problem.
The people who are affected by the floods are in terrible condition. Physically, mentally and emotionally burned out from this tragedy. The lives that were lost could never be brought back to life. 

The recent flood in Malaysia left many stranded for hours on end. Video supplied by Shah Sabil.

The pain that these people had to go through were mainly worsened due to the late action that was taken by the government.
There are many things that the government could’ve done to save everyone from a worsened condition. 
The countries’ assets should’ve been used to full capacity to help those who were trapped in their homes and roofs.
Instead, these innocent people had to wait for days before they received any help.
Even the help received mainly came from fellow Malaysians, who took it to social media platforms to expose the location and condition of the people who were trapped. 
The hashtags #DaruratBanjir and #KitaJagaKita are trending, even right now, because the people had to take it into their own hands to save lives. 
This brings out the question, is the government truly capable of ensuring the safety of the citizens of Malaysia?

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Is our country in safe hands? 
Ironically, every organisation are just pointing fingers to one another regarding the causes and the effects of the floods but no one is daring enough to answer any of the critics given. 
Even the higher ups at the Ministry of Environment and Water stated that Malaysia is not a country that is affected by climate change earlier this year, which obviously is proven wrong today considering the devastating situation that the people are currently facing. 
The government must convert their focus into saving the people instead of caring about their own personal agendas. The agencies under the government must start to be more useful in collecting, receiving and giving data and information to the higher ups and also the citizens. 
At the end of the day, the work of a politician is to represent the people who are on the ground.
If the citizens don’t feel safe and cared by their leaders, then the government has failed.

About the author: Mahathir Md Rais is the Bersatu Segambut Division Chief of Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia. This is an opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of this publication.

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