Messages kept coming since yesterday in my WhatsApp group on the increasingly critical flood situation in the East Coast states of the Peninsular namely the states of Kelantan, Trengganu and Pahang (PM Najib’s home state). Water level has long overshot the critical level and many people are trapped in areas near the rivers. A message from a teacher in one of the schools told about how the water was very fast rising and was already at the second floor of his secondary school and there were people there with hungry children and no foods as their houses were all submerged. The teacher was earnestly pleading for help.
A district hospital staff sent an urgent message detailing how their power has been cut off and patients in ICU are on rapidly depleting oxygen. Evacuation by helicopters is needed.They also could not serve foods to patients in the wards as the kitchen was all flooded. Food supplies are critical. These messages in effect tell what is the reality on the ground despite what the government is portraying.
Incidentally, the state of Kelantan is under the Opposition PAS (Islamic Party) government which is getting ready to pass amendments to the Kelantan Shariah Criminal Code Enactment II , a precursor to the implementation of Hudud ( Shariah law) in the State. They are supposed to meet next Monday to finalise the bill and have refused to cancel the meeting despite the current problem. A PAS leader even says here that the great flood is a sign that God wants the State to implement the Hudud law (cutting hand for theft, stoning for adultery) …now, how do you argue with this crap!
Anyway, the seasonal flood this time around is indeed the worst since 1971. It looks like the state government is not capable of dealing with the disaster without the help of the Federal government at Putrajaya (the nation seat of government).
The following desperate call for help from the Federal government is made in the social media by a local member of UMNO, the dominant Coalition component of the governing National Front (Barisan nasional- BN) (2013-2018).
Let me translate: basically he is saying,
” I have supplies with me BUT UNABLE TO REACH THE TARGET AREA …. what about those who have run to the hills and those trapped in schools HOPE SUPPLIES WILL ARRIVE… many complain short of food supplies and are hungry PLS HELP PLS PLS!… Putrajaya PLS HELP .. supplies unable to reach.. MILITARY ASSETS ETC ARE INADEQUATE HERE…. MORE NGO AND PRIVATE SECTOR PLS…..
This is a local Kelantanese BN man who is fabulously wealthy by just being a “losing” politician and he is pleading here, as the State government of Kelantan, being in the opposition at the Federal level would be loathed begging for help like this. I reckon they would rather pray and accept their fate as God’s will.
In the meantime the country’s Prime Minister is on holiday and is seen playing golf with President Obama in Hawaii. The PM is currently managing the country through Twitter. He tweeted here and he tweeted there as if he were in the country but actually physically thousands of miles away ( wondering whether he was using the government jet for this unofficial visit)… right , Najib is no Jokowi of Indonesia who took a commercial flight flying economy class to Singapore to attend his son’s college graduation… I am indeed humbled.
Voices of unhappiness have surfaced against Najib’s way of managing the country. When Muslim extremists were calling for Muslims not to send Christmas greetings to fellow Malaysian Christians, this PM has chosen to stay away on Christmas Day to avoid being accused of celebrating with Christians?: a conjecture… Though he did tweet to wish Merry Christmas and mentioning about diversity and unity and yet he never lifts a finger to chide those extremists openly. He speaks convincingly about moderation at the global level and yet locally he has chosen to shut his mouth and is perceived as supporting the divisive sentiment. But to me, I feel this PM is unable to articulate well under pressure and thus his apparent inaction.
He is not a crisis leader. And so as we witness Kelantan and other east-coast states struggling at the height of the great flood, our PM is relaxing on holiday playing a round of golf with Obama…. now that is indeed interesting….. I did secretly wish that Obama would tell Najib to rein in the rising Islamist extremism in Malaysia or risk crippling economic sanctions? Haha…you are no Vladimir Putin, Mr Prime Minister.