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Coming together to deal with Penang disaster way forward

November 5, 2017

Toxic politics has occupied our attention for far too long and we are happy leaders are working together to help affected flood victims.

COMMENT

penang-floodBy TK Chua

When the country is facing a disaster, let’s come together to help each other. At least we should leave politics aside for the time being.

I remember when Kelantan was inundated by massive floods in 2014/15. The federal government as well as private organisations and individuals, regardless of race and religion, extended their help.

There were only three pieces of news I consider as “positive” today.

First, Lim Guan Eng, the Penang chief minister, called Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Zahid Hamidi to urge him to use the resources of the federal government to help out in the flood situation in Penang.

Second, Zahid responded positively to the request. Third, PM Najib Razak also promised to help any state facing a disaster.

In addition, Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein ordered the armed forces, both personnel and assets, to be deployed as quickly as possible to help the flood victims in Penang.

I think the situation in Penang has reminded us how this country ought to be governed – that the governments (federal, state and local) are supposed to serve the people, regardless of political affiliation, region, race or religion.

I am glad Guan Eng was humble enough to ask for help even at 3 in the morning. I have always reminded him to seek cooperation first in his dealings with the federal government despite political differences.

I hope seeking help and cooperation will not be confined to emergency situations only. Whether we like it or not, our system of government mandates cooperation between different tiers of governments.

I am glad the DPM was willing to take Guan Eng’s call at 3am and extended the help sought. It shows maturity and magnanimity.

I am glad the PM, as the head of the federal government, also promised to help. I am glad the defence minister has rendered help quickly.

For a long time, our politics has become toxic. This is one rare occasion where leaders from different sides of the aisle have shown immediate and spontaneous cooperation. I think they all deserve our praise.

I know our leaders probably need no encouragement or motivation from anyone. But as a citizen, I just want to congratulate them when they have done something right.

Leaders must show magnanimity when dealing with national issues. We are, after all, one nation, one people, living under one king and one flag.

In this regard, it is really unnecessary for MCA Youth chief Chong Sin Woon to rub salt into the wound even though he may have said it in jest. This is not the time to label Guan Eng a “deity” if he is truly concerned with the flood situation in Penang.

I think the cooperation among leaders must go beyond tackling floods. We must take a serious look at unfettered development, not just in Penang but in other regions as well, which has irreparably damaged our environment.

No doubt the rain was a little heavier than usual this time, but surely the impact would not be as severe if we had followed proper planning bylaws and strict enforcement.

TK Chua is an FMT reader.

The views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.


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