Malaysia's DPM: I couldn't sleep thinking of how high the waters would have risen

KUALA LUMPUR - Chairing the National Disaster Management and Relief Committee during the country's worst ever flood situation last month gave Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin sleepless nights.

Recounting the experience, the Deputy Prime Minister shared how a school teacher who was stuck in a school in Manek Urai, Kelantan managed to get the message out that waters were rising fast, nearing the second floor of the building.

"That night I couldn't sleep thinking of how high the waters would have risen and whether the hundreds of victims there were safe.

"Although we had an abundance of food and supplies, there was no way of sending the items at that time due to the bad weather and severe flooding.

"We could not fly because of the rain and winds and we could not send boats because the water currents were very strong.

"We finally managed to send in the Fire Department personnel as soon as conditions permitted and thankfully, everyone was safe.

"The usually 45-minute journey took rescuers six hours," he said during his speech before receiving contributions for flood victims through the Tan Sri Muhyiddin Charity Golf Foundation here yesterday.

He received a total of RM2mil from five groups, Genting Malaysia Bhd RM1mil(S$368 620), Hong Leong Group - Hong Leong Foundation RM250,000, Kuala Lumpur Kepong Bhd RM200,000, Mammoth Empire Holdings Sdn Bhd (RM300,000 and RM100,000 in ceramic ware), and Perdana Park City Sdn Bhd RM250,000.

To date, Muhyiddin said more than 400,000 Malaysians had been directly affected by the floods and 200,000 of them were from Kelantan.

Muhyiddin said 25 people have died due to the floods, including two teachers who were attempting to deliver aid when the boat capsized.

Over 2,600 houses were also completely destroyed, he added.

The Government's focus now, he said, was to provide semi-furnished housing for these victims to help them move on from the devastation.

He added that for those whose homes were only partially affected, a contribution of between RM5,000 and RM10,000 per home would be allocated for repairs. He estimated that about 10,000 homes had been affected.

Muhyiddin said the Government planned to make the laws on deforestation more stringent if it was found that this was the cause of the worsening floods.