Media statement by MP for Bandar Kuching, Dr Kelvin Yii Lee Wuen on 27 December 2021:
Both the Federal and State Government must take heed of the warning by the Malaysian Meteorological Department (METMalaysia) and beef up their machinery to ensure a well-executed pre-disaster coordination and delivery in view of possible floods and need for evacuation during the monsoon surge.
METMalaysia is forecasting a monsoonal surge from 27 to 30 December, which could cause continuous rain in eastern Johor, eastern Sabah and western Sarawak between 28 to 30 December.
They must learn lessons from the poorly coordinated flood response especially in view of the recent flood disaster in Pahang, Selangor and other states whose death toll rose to 46 with 5 people still missing and more than 70,000 displaced.
There cannot be any more excuses if there are any poorly executed pre-disaster coordination and delivery especially since we have been suffering from chronic floods all these years.
That is why we need a comprehensive coordination between the National Disaster Management Agency (NADMA) and the Sarawak Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) to mitigate as much as possible the risk of flooding in high-risk areas. Furthermore, a “Flood Disaster Relief Machinery” must be established to ensure a coordinated relief operations at the federal, state and district levels so that assistance can be provided to flood victims in an orderly and effective manner
In the short term, all local councils in Sarawak must ensure all drain maintenance and cleaning must be done before the predicted monsoon surge at end of the year. This is to reduce the chances of flash floods and to ensure that there will be proper outflow of water and not be blocked by debris build-up or from other causes causing flash floods especially in urban areas.
SDMC should also be actively warning and educating residents in high-risk areas on the steps that need to be taken in preparation for the floods. Temporary relief centres must be properly set up with proper SOPs in place in preparation for a possible rise in Covid-19 infection due to these unfavourable conditions and also local spread of Omicron.
All healthcare facilities must be equipped to cater and deal with possible health crisis on top of Covid-19, especially when it comes to after-flood water-borne diseases such as leptospirosis, cholera, hepatitis A or even typhoid.
In the long term, the Department of Irrigation and Drainage Sarawak must expedite the State Flood Mitigation project that was promised for years. This includes the RM 150 million flood mitigation project that was supposed to be carried out this year to provide some long-term measure to address flash floods issue in low-lying areas such in Kuching.
If such projects are not carried out as soon as possible, the people will continue to face such flooding issues on a yearly basis and face all kinds of losses and damages to their personal properties, furniture, and even other equipments.
With all these warnings and even experiences from past flood issues, the government has no excuses if there are any poorly executed pre and post-disaster coordination and delivery.