MALAYSIA: Widespread floods have wreaked havoc in the Malaysian states of Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang, and Selangor, leaving a trail of destruction and displacing thousands of residents.
As of 9 am on Wednesday (27 Dec), the total number of disaster victims surged to over 28,000, an alarming increase from the 25,438 reported earlier on Monday.
The National Disaster Command Centre of the National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma) released a distressing report highlighting the escalating crisis.
The total count of active temporary relief centres across the affected states rose from 199 to 231, underscoring the magnitude of the situation.
Kelantan emerged as the hardest-hit state, recording the highest number of affected districts and flood victims.
Eight districts in Kelantan are grappling with the calamity, affecting a staggering 17,664 individuals.
Terengganu follows closely with seven districts and 10,388 victims, while Pahang and Selangor report 590 and four victims, respectively.
Terengganu leads in active relief centres 125, trailed by Kelantan with 92, Pahang with 13, and Selangor with one.
Pahang faces a unique challenge, as one of its relief centres in the Cameron Highlands district caters to 87 people from 17 families affected by a landslide incident.
Additionally, nine other flood relief centres were established in Raub, and three more were set up in Lipis.
Tragically, the report confirms three flood-related fatalities in Kelantan, including two recent cases involving a boy in Kota Bharu and a girl in Pasir Mas on Tuesday (26 Dec).
Another fatality occurred last Sunday (24 Dec), involving a girl in Pasir Mas.
Social media flooded with images and videos highlighting the devastation of four Malaysian states
Numerous videos circulating on social media vividly depict the dire conditions experienced by residents.
Some show individuals hurriedly safeguarding their belongings from floodwaters, while authorities are seen relocating victims to designated flood relief centers.
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One particularly striking TikTok video captures a resident standing calmly beneath a road sign in Gambang Damai, Pahang, even as the floodwaters rise to chest level:
RMAF urgent airlift transported pregnant woman for emergency care
In a recent Facebook post by The Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF), it was disclosed that on Monday, RMAF executed a crucial mission to airlift a pregnant woman at 35 weeks’ gestation facing a ‘Hypertensive Crisis’ and ‘Threatened Preterm Labor.’
The 32-year-old woman, living in Kampung La, Jerteh, Terengganu, experienced the village’s road access being severed due to flooding at that time.
Alongside her husband, she was swiftly flown from their village to Gong Kedak Air Base aboard an EC 725 AP aircraft from No. 10 Squadron.
Upon arrival, the patient was transferred via ambulance to Besut Hospital to receive the urgent medical attention she required.
Malaysian government face criticism over failure to address recurring flood issues
The east coast of Peninsula Malaysia is well-known as a flood-prone area during the yearly Northeast Monsoon season. Intense rainfall and strong winds could potentially cause catastrophic loss of life and physical destruction.
The Malaysian government has been under intense scrutiny due to its failure to effectively address the recurring annual flood disasters.
Critics have highlighted a decades-long trend since Malaysia gained independence, noting the government’s inability to prevent the annual deluge that inundates states like Kelantan and Terengganu.
Questions have been raised about the government’s lack of implementation of effective policies to tackle this recurring issue.
In October 2022, Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, President of the United Malays National Organization (UMNO), faced criticism for advocating an election in November, despite the year-end being the monsoon season, typically associated with a spike in flood cases across Malaysia.
The then Malaysian Prime Minister, Ismail Sabri Yaakob, also a vice-president of UMNO, potentially faced internal party pressure, leading to the announcement of the dissolution of the Malaysian Parliament on 10 October.
Dr Ahmad Zahid had previously called the current election as the “Mother of all Election”, and warned his BN component parties that they must win GE15 dominantly, or face more political prosecution.
Despite flood victims in several states, the election was held on 19 November. As a consequence, Dr Ahmad Zahid only managed to secure his seat with a slim majority due to voter reluctance amidst grappling with flood issues.
Dr Ahmad Zahid, who also led the former Malaysian ruling coalition Barisan National, also embattled with criticism and calls to step down following BN’s tragic loss in GE15.
With only 30 seats secured out of the contested 177 seats, BN experienced its worst result in the coalition’s history, eventually leading them to form a Unity Government in collaboration with Anwar’s Pakatan Harapan coalition.
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