Zahid reprimands leaders on holiday during monsoon season

KUALA LUMPUR: Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi today reprimanded leaders who go off on holidays abroad during the monsoon season.

"Flooding can be expected, particularly along the east coast during the monsoon season.

"Hence, the relevant parties need to be better prepared to face it.

"Going on vacation overseas, for example, is not the best decision when the people who elected their representatives (MPs) are struck by misfortune," Zahid said in a Facebook post today.

Zahid, who is also the rural and regional development minister, reminded elected representatives that people "will judge their concern and sincerity".

His post comes just days after netizens questioned Terengganu Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Samsuri Mokhtar's "absence" as the floods in the east coast state worsened, leading to tens of thousands of flood victims evacuated to relief centres for safety

It is understood that Ahmad Samsuri was in New Zealand to visit his daughter, Nabilah, who received a master's degree in Analytics from the University of Technology in Auckland.

The menteri besar apologised yesterday for his absence.

The massive floods in the east coast have claimed five lives so far, including a three-year-old in Terengganu.

Zahid also said deforestation activities should be stopped and drainage systems should be maintained properly to prevent flash floods.

He called on the respective state governments to step up enforcement and have better plans in place for flood prevention.

"There are also human factors that contribute to major floods, which is why we are seeing areas that have never been affected by major floods before, experiencing one now.

"There is severe damage to the ecosystem due to illegal logging and uncontrolled deforestation. These require collective awareness and action to re-stabilise this natural ecosystem.

"Our drainage system needs to be better maintained, ensuring it is not blocked. This kind of maintenance culture should be a daily work practice and not only given attention when there is a flood."

Zahid said while National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma) had the expertise and equipment to deal with such disasters, there is "still room for improvement".

"Nadma's commitment is commendable and the agency has received an additional allocation of RM400 million for the year-end flood preparedness.

"However, when a major flood occurs, it will result in loss of life, damage to crops, livestock, and property and can destroy existing infrastructure facilities.

"Flood victims lose their sense of happiness, experience trauma, vehicles are damaged and need to be repaired and income is affected or even lost. This causes the life happiness index to fall and the people's wellbeing affected."

In 2021, he said the Department of Statistics Malaysia estimated the total loss due to floods nationwide stood at RM6.1 billion covering damage to residences, vehicles, business premises and infrastructure.

"The losses do not include the huge expenditure disbursed to help manage major floods, repair severely damaged infrastructure, provide flood evacuation sites and other things."

Zahid added that to ensure the wellbeing of the people in the flood-prone areas and floods more effectively addressed, non-governmental organisations, flood victims, as well as academics were urged to provide feedback to the government to assist in determining the best method for handling the issue.

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