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Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 14 — Disaster management discussions should focus on the entire country, not just select states, Klang MP Charles Santiago said today.

Despite a meeting with the Federal Disaster Management Task Force chaired by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob to assess the level of coordination and preparedness of disaster management in the country, Charles said the discussions appear to have left out Selangor.

“It’s mind-boggling that the discussions appear to have left out Selangor and instead focused on the eastern states of the peninsula and East Malaysia.

“(The) Meteorological Department (MET) has identified 62 areas in the Klang district alone as flood hotspots due to the combination of the northeast monsoon and high tides.

“MET also predicts an average of 100mm to 400mm of rainfall in Klang in the next months. Klang will clearly face massive floods in the coming months,” Charles pointed in a statement today.

The DAP lawmaker also added that a test run must be done to ensure that the early warning sirens are heard by all houses in the vicinity, especially during thunderstorms, and crucially for residents in Seri Muda, Selangor, who were clueless about the sirens last December.

As for local authorities, Charles said they must conduct a flood drill to ensure that residents know the standard operating procedures (SOPs) for emergency evacuation.

Residents must be informed of their nearest evacuation centres and emergency hotlines well ahead of time, he said.

Vulnerable households, comprising the elderly or differently abled people, should also be identified ahead of time so that rescuers know which homes to target first, he added.

Charles also called on the National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma) to step up its disaster response and relief.

“Currently, the duties of relevant agencies are not explicitly outlined, and this creates room for mismanagement and poor coordination.

“The agency should be restructured, and it should consider mobilising the army, navy and defence forces as part of disaster management as they have access to boats, equipment and vehicles that can be mobilised on short notice,” he said.

Charles also offered other suggestions including the government setting up a flood insurance scheme for those in high-risk areas as well as bottom 40 per cent (B40) households paying a low premium for the protection of their homes and assets.

“It’s clear that Ismail Sabri is trying, but much more comprehensive strategies must be incorporated to ensure we are adequately prepared for any flood mitigation.

“And therefore, I hope that the prime minister will also incorporate our suggestions and recommendations to substantially reduce disaster risks and losses to lives and livelihoods,” he said.

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