PETALING JAYA: As widespread flooding hit five states at the weekend, the Armed Forces sprang into action on Friday, helping evacuate flood victims to relief centres, without waiting for any directive from the National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma), FMT has learnt.
The agency, which has since received flak over its management of the flood in the Klang Valley, had been initially hesitant about roping in the Armed Forces for relief efforts, a source close to the matter revealed.
The source also said the Selangor government was also reluctant in getting the military involved.
“It came to a point, where we (the defence ministry) decided, to hell with Nadma,” the source said. “Flood waters were already rising, we were not going to wait any longer.”
So, after the Friday prayers, the Armed Forces headed to areas struck by the floods.
On Sunday evening, senior minister for defence Hishammuddin Hussein tweeted that he had briefed Armed Forces chief of staff Mohd Zakaria Yadi on the situation in Klang.
The source said Mindef (the defence ministry) was also “fed-up” with Nadma and the Selangor government.
Yesterday, Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced that the National Security Council would take the lead for flood relief efforts effective immediately, following the perceived tepid response from Nadma.
The source also said the agency “didn’t know how to handle the crisis”, claiming that no one from Nadma or the state government had even bothered to monitor social media to trawl for SOS messages from victims.
The source said people from Mindef were “screaming” at Nadma personnel. And only yesterday did the agency call for a meeting to coordinate relief efforts, the source added.
“It was as if there was no sense of seriousness to the gravity of the situation. Hence, the armed forces and Mindef decided to just bulldoze (rescue efforts).”
Over the weekend, the Klang Valley, Pahang, Kelantan and Terengganu were battered by heavy rain that began on Friday, which displaced more than 40,000 people.
Meanwhile, in a tweet today, Selangor menteri besar Amirudin Shari clarified that he had contacted Hishammuddin “so that assets and security personnel can be mobilised to assist in the process of evacuation and rescue of flood victims stranded in Selangor”.
In a separate tweet, he also said 203 temporary relief centres, housing 30,632 evacuees, had been set up in nine districts throughout the state as of 8am today.