Thursday, January 15, 2009

Flood relief work in Sarawak sucks

Tiong King Sing, Bintulu MP is brave enough to criticize the flood relief support (or the lack of it) in Sarawak which is slack and unorganized. One wonders if the Bilik Gerakan Banjir is really up to the task or the people assigned to monitor and provide relief really know what they are doing. From the look of it, the people they are totally clueless and not ready for any eventuality.

George Chan, time for you to give your excuses.

From TheBorneoPost

Flood relief work disappointing: Tiong

SIBU: The residents of a flood-stricken longhouse in the interior waited and waited for someone from outside to help them. Sadly nobody came.

When the flood finally receded, some people came. The victims were excited thinking that some relief was coming their way. Better late than never, they said.

Much to their disappointment and annoyance, the visiting government officers did not bring any food or any other basic necessity. They only wanted to fill some official forms!

According to Bintulu MP Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing, that was what happened to the folk of Rumah Edward Chai in Ulu Niah.

In a press statement received here yesterday, Tiong said he visited the longhouse in the interior on Tuesday.

He was annoyed that the villagers were neglected by the flood relief workers, and he wondered how many other rural folks he had not visited also suffered in a similar manner.

He said many victims got stranded when their roads got cut off. They ran out of food and petrol and after waiting for three days, no help came.

He said his people’s service centre sent a distress call to Niah Flood Operations Room at 1am on Tuesday, but at daybreak the provisions did not come.

“The officers just came with some forms, of all things. I am angry that the relief workers did not see saving lives as their priority.

“Instead, they played around with formality. Help should have come first, and when the victims are settled, only then should the officers start filling forms.”

Tiong, who is also BN Backbenchers’ Club chairman, said he was on a tour of duty to Ulu Niah, and what he saw at Rumah Edward Chai saddened him.

He said officers involved in flood-related operations should not just sit and wait for the victims to come to them.

“The flood victims were stranded so the officers should go to them.”

He said the stranded victims were anxious, and when he arrived, they were running out of food and did not have much petrol for their boats as well.

“I am disappointed that after four days, the flood operations room is still ignorant of how serious the flood was and how people have suffered.”

He claimed that when the officers arrived with their forms they told the people that they did not know the situation was so serious.

Understandably, the victims got angry, he said.

He called on the officers to wait no more in their office.

“Go out to the people. Saving life means racing against time.”

On the same day, Tiong also visited the evacuation centre at SRK Kampung Iran in Ulu Niah where 26 victims were sheltered.

“The visit to the evacuees gave me a new heartache,” he said.

He remembered a family of five got a 10-kg bag of rice, a small packet of biscuit, six small cans of sardines, 15 packets of instant noodles, 400gm of salt, 200gm of coffee powder and a kilogramme of white sugar.

“That was okay, but why gave the same amount to a family of 10?

“To make matters worse, there was no drinking water. Some of the victims had to row their boats to help themselves.”

This, he said, was dangerous as the flood was high and the river current was swift.

No clothes were provided, no blankets for the children and the elderly, and no milk powder for the infants.

Shocked by the utter neglect, Tiong reckoned the help given to the victims did not meet the requirements stipulated by the Women, Family and Social Development Ministry.

“Our backbenchers’ club has held dialogues with the ministry numerous times on aid for disaster victims. We want to make sure that the victims get the help they need.”

He said when people got angry with inefficient officers, the Barisan Nasional government would get the blame.

Tiong said he had asked the SPDP People’s Service Centre in Niah to send help to the victims.

As for the poor performance of flood rescue workers, he said he would raise the matter in parliament.

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