KL to release guidelines on handling disasters next week

An aerial view of the floods in Kelantan, Malaysia.
The Straits Times

KUALA LUMPUR - A "how to" on handling disasters, especially floods, is expected to be released to the public next week.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim said a standard operating procedure (SOP) on disasters would be out after a Cabinet endorsement.

"For disaster preparedness, especially floods, we will come out with an SOP," he told reporters at the launch of Wisma Gayong, which will serve as a centre for Silat Gayong members.

The SOP would include, for example, where people would have to go in the event of a flood, he said.

It was reported last month that the Government had set up a National Disaster Management Agency, which would be in charge of managing people in the event of a natural disaster.

Formed under the Prime Minister's Department, it takes over from the National Security Council's disaster management unit.

The Civil Defence Department (JPAM) will also be drafted into this agency.

Shahidan said community-level disaster response committees would be formed under the agency.

"It will involve local leaders, including MPs, and so on. They will manage disasters at the community level," he said.

Shahidan said there were 155,000 JPAM volunteers now and the Government wanted to increase this to two million over the next two years.

Previously, the smallest division under the NSC in dealing with disasters was at the district level.

This announcement comes as the north-east monsoon is expected to hit Malaysia with possible heavy rain despite the El Nino.

Last December, thousands of people were affected by massive floods in east coast states, catching many, including the authorities, by surprise.