TASEK GELUGOR - The Federal Government has approved RM150mil for flood mitigation projects to be carried out in Penang.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said the Government is willing to top up allocation for 13 projects which have been identified by the Penang Drainage and Irrigation Department costing RM1bil.
“We will top up the allocation, bearing in mind the seriousness of what has happened.
“But the actual amount will be subjected to further discussion between the Federal and state governments.
The projects will begin in stages and will be completed within a few years.
Najib said the people’s safety and welfare are the Government’s priority.
Almost the whole of Penang was submerged in 0.2m to 1m of water due to heavy rain since Saturday. Trees were also uprooted. The flood which claimed seven lives is reported to be the worst in the state.
Asked why no warnings were issued prior to the flash floods and strong winds, Najib said the incidents were beyond expectation.
“It’s very, very unusual. One and a half months of rain in one day coupled with strong winds.
“The wind was blowing at 40kph and even the ferry was ‘lifted’ onto the dock.
“The water had also came in from Kedah. This is another factor. These are three unexpected elements happening at the same time,” he said.
Najib said some of the victims he had spoken to were depressed.
“We will see how we can help them. We do not know how long this will go on as there are predictions that there will be a second or third wave.
“Let’s wait until all is over and we will ascertain the losses.”
On calls by NGOs that hillslope projects in the state should be reviewed, Najib said: “Those involved should heed the rules and regulations to avoid causing negative effects to the environment.”
Asked whether Malaysia was ready for climate change, Najib said it was a global phenomenon.
“All countries will face the challenges. Countries like the United States were hit by hurricanes and the effect was catastrophic. They are a developed country.
“We won’t be spared but we will do our best. The developers should abide by the rules and not just think about profit.
“They must look at the negative effect on the environment as a result of their developments.”
Najib said the Disaster Responsive Network involving government-linked companies would assist the flood victims.
“Khazanah, Pharmaniaga, UEM, Axiata and various organisations will work together through the network to give out contributions to the victims.
“NGOs like Girl Guides Association Malaysia, Mercy Malaysia, Kelab Putera 1Malaysia, IM4U and those from Penang are also helping.
“This is a multi-faceted operation, which involves all the various agencies that have done a good job so far,” he said.
Najib said the cooperation between the various agencies of the state and Federal governments was good.
“They have been working round the clock to assist the victims, such as the evacuation process and distribution of food and basic necessities. Even the Chief Minister admitted that the good cooperation is exemplary when dealing with the disaster.”
Najib was at the Seberang Prai District Office where he was briefed by state secretary Datuk Seri Farizan Darus on the flood situation and measures to be taken in addressing the disaster.
He also visited flood victims in Kampung Tanjung Putus in Permatang Pauh.
His wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, who is president of Girl Guides Association Malaysia, announced a contribution of RM110,000 for the flood victims.
She gave RM50,000 to Penang development officer Datuk Syed Shaari Syed Abdullah and RM60,000 to National Security Council Penang director Daud Abdullah.
Also present were MCA president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai, Gerakan president Datuk Mah Siew Keong, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Dr Shahidan Kassim, Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, PKR president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, Penang Umno chairman Datuk Zainal Abidin Osman, Wanita MCA chairman Datuk Heng Seai Kie, Penang MCA chairman Datuk Tan Teik Cheng, state exco member Phee Boon Poh and Penang Opposition leader Datuk Jahara Hamid.