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The political lining of Penang’s flood

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There are no words to describe the pain and misery our fellow Malaysians endured during the recent flooding disaster which caused devastating damage in Penang. Everyone was caught off-guard and even Chief Minister, Lim Guan Eng was stumped for a solution.

 

The state had exhausted all its resources trying their best to assist the people and when the situation continued to worsen, Lim was forced to appeal for help from the Federal Government. He made an SOS call to Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi at 3.30am – a call that was not refused, but taken by Ahmad Zahid even at that hour.

 

There was no hesitation on the side of the deputy premier, but an immediate positive response that he would send in the army to assist the flood victims.

 

The next morning, Defence Minister, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein confirmed that the army had been deployed to assist flood victims and several days later, said the army would stay on and assist the people to rebuild their homes.

 

From the reports, it was clearly obvious the people in Penang were truly happy to see the army and there were also those who could not hold their emotions back and were seen hugging Hishammuddin when he visited the affected areas.

 

The perception that Penangites had ill feelings against the Barisan Nasional (BN) was quashed by the warm welcome they gave the SAR personnel. Deep in their hearts, they know that though the Opposition may be in power in the state, they still have the back-up and machinery of the Federal Government in situations like this.

 

Following Lim’s call to the deputy premier, a stream of federal ministers and other representatives began visiting the affected people and offering all kinds of aid to them. Numerous relief funds and assistant programmes were immediately launched around the country and help began coming in from all quarters.

 

This assistance did not only come from opposition-ruled states or parties in the opposition, but from across the country, regardless of political association. Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak not only personally visited the affected areas with his wife, but also made a major announcement on flood mitigation in the state when he was there.

 

However, sadly, even at a time like this, when people are badly in need of help, there were those irresponsible quarters within the opposition who tried to discredit Najib. They claimed the allocation announced by Najib was “recycled” and one that should have reached the state years ago.

 

This is not something surprising and a move that is expected by the opposition. When pushed to a corner, it is typical of the opposition to strike below the belt, as was clearly witnessed in this instance.

 

Fortunately, Lim, who was seen hugging Ahmad Zahid upon arrival, was realistic and came out in defence of Najib, not that there was anything to defend in the first place. Lim explained that he was next to Najib when the announcement was made and the premier told him that RM150 million for flood mitigation had already been approved earlier.

 

“The news here is that Najib said he would seriously consider approving a RM1 billion allocation for flood mitigation projects still not released under the previous five-year Malaysia Development Plans.

 

“The RM150 million mentioned by the PM was a previously approved announcement made last year on Nov 8, 2016 by the Natural Resources and Environment Minister,” Lim said.

 

Clearly. there was no hanky panky on the part of the government. It was merely the work of irresponsible keyboard warriors on the part of the opposition who try to stir unnecessary trouble.

 

But this was nothing new. They had also tried to do following the Budget 2018 announcement where Najib announced the abolishment of toll at Batu Tiga which was spun out of context that it left a bad taste in the people’s mouth.

 

It is time for the people to come to terms with the fact that the BN is a capable and responsible government – as it should be. Their swift and sincere actions to aid Penangites in need is clear testimony of this. Yes, it was partly for political mileage, but they managed to pull off the relief efforts competently. This is due to their many years in government and familiarity with the policies.

 

The Opposition in this country has a long way to go and there are way too many cracks in their own organisation which they are yet to resolve. Their performance in Penang and Selangor left a lot to be desired. They should get their backyard in order before going around making promises which are way beyond their reach.

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