Decentralisation Of Flood Mitigation, Disaster Relief, Rescue And Recovery Management To The State Governments With An Annual Allocation Of The Higher Of RM100 Million Or 20% Of The State’s Respective Tax Contributions.
The recent flood disaster in Peninsular Malaysia has highlighted the comprehensive failure of the Federal government in mitigation, rescue, relief and recovery management leading to unnecessary lives lost of at least 54 persons and RM20 billion in economic losses.
Nothing highlights the failure of the Federal government more than the disappointing performance of the Prime Minister and Ministers who were either uninterested or uncaring and completely at a loss not knowing what to do.
Who can forget the ridiculous optics of the Prime Minister refusing to step down from his car when visiting flood victims or Minister Rina Harun cleaning up an already clean area instead of the mud filled homes of flood victims?
Worse, specialised disaster management agencies like NADMA disclaimed responsibility and pinned the blame on the state governments.
This is a systemic failure of both the leadership and administration structure of the Federal government. There must be a paradigm shift from the present unworkable model where Putrajaya decides on how to conduct a rescue in their air-conditioned room hundreds of miles away.
Since the Federal government has proven its incompetence and inability to deal with a national flood crisis and wants to pin the blame on the state governments, then the government should adopt decentralisation.
Such financial contribution would not adversely affect the Federal Budget by channeling existing allocations in the Federal government Ministries to the respective state governments.
This means that state governments will be in charge of drainage, flood mitigation works including hill slope maintenance, disaster relief, rescue and recovery in cleaning up and normalizing life for flood victims with the required financial assistance.
The state government can be more effective in carrying out flood mitigation, rescue and relief works.
When the big flood occurred in Penang on 5 November, the Penang state government stepped up and took over not just rescue and relief works but also recovery management successfully that most of the major cleaning up was done within a week and the situation normalized in a month.
Prince Charles was so impressed when he visited Penang just after the floods that he even asked whether there was in fact a major flood disaster in Penang.
Unless decentralisation is adopted, the sad cycle of Malaysians literally “drowning” in flood disaster management failure will be repeated interminably with no end in sight.
Lim Guan Eng