Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Special Functions) Abdul Latiff Ahmad – who has purview over the National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma) – said he is willing to resign.
This follows calls for him to step down over the government’s poor rescue response to the flood disaster last weekend.
However, the Mersing MP questioned whether his resignation or even the dissolution of Nadma, would be able to resolve anything.
“Dissolve (Nadma), can, I agree. I can step down also. I have been (an elected representative) for six terms without any problems.
“But what is the solution? If they want to suggest dissolving Nadma and asking for my resignation, then they should provide a solution as well.
“If they just want to ask for my resignation, our country would be changing prime ministers every three months,” Abdul Latiff was reported as saying by Sinar Harian today.
Major flash floods struck various parts of the country last weekend, displacing thousands of people in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Pahang, Negeri Sembilan, and Malacca.
Many residents were also trapped on rooftops overnight, without food and electricity.
The federal and state governments have since faced criticism over their poor rescue response. Instead, volunteer rescuers were among the first on the scene in several areas.
Nadma was among the agencies which faced strong criticism, prompting the National Security Council (NSC) to take over.
Abdul Latiff explained that Nadma is a federal agency that has more of a coordination role. He added that it only has 50 staff members.
Disaster management is actually entirely handled at the state levels, he said, adding that district officers are in charge at the district levels.
He said Nadma’s main focus is to coordinate rescue and relief efforts between agencies such as the Malaysian army, police force, public defence force, Fire and Rescue Department, Welfare Department, and so on.
“Nadma will provide administrative assistance because this agency is only at the federal level and we do not have any state-level or district-level staff.
“Nadma only has 50 staff members on duty at the federal level,” he said.
Asked if there are any plans to increase the number of staff for Nadma, Abdul Latiff said the states have their own roles to play in such situations as well.
“I am of the opinion that disaster management should be shared between the three stages of government, that is the federal level, state level, and the district level or the local authorities.
“We cannot ask the federal government alone to handle this because disasters are colour blind,” he said.
However, he acknowledged that Nadma does have its shortcomings and suggested that the agency starts utilising artificial intelligence and cooperate with the Meteorological Department to get more solid data.
Abdul Latiff also strongly denied allegations that Nadma had stopped NGOs from sending aid to flood victims.
He explained that due to safety factors, they merely wanted NGOs to inform the agency before they entered disaster-stricken areas to provide aid to the victims. – Malaysiakini