The blame game – how Noh Omar’s idiocy exposed more government incompetence

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Lack of coordination due to zero leadership, which led to confusion, despite having the biggest Cabinet in the world.

Disgraced former Prime Minister Najib Razak said the Selangor state government, which is being ruled by the Opposition Pakatan Harapan, should not blame the federal government, which is being run by his own party UMNO, for the spectacular failure to manage the flood disaster. Najib argued that the state government has its responsibility too, in an attempt to shield Noh Omar.

Of course, there were reasons why he defended the indefensible. As a start, Entrepreneur Development and Cooperative Minister Noh Omar was Najib’s hatchet man, the UMNO gangster tasked to carry out dirty works like stirring up racial and religious sentiments among the Malays that the Muslims and Malay Rulers have lost power to the “Chinese, Christians and Communists”.

Noh Omar would take “his share” and outsource the dirty jobs to Jamal Yunos, a lower-ranking UMNO thug, who would then take his share and pay RM50 and a pack of chicken rice as well as a T-shirt to gullible and unemployed young Malays to take to the street. That was how the United Malays National Organization (UMNO) rallied for Malay supports for the last 65 years.

Secondly, Najib has to show some support for PM Ismail Sabri, despite the glaring disaster mishandling, because Najib still wanted the government’s interference to influence the Federal Court to acquit him from corruption charges. Thirdly, Najib understood that Sabri’s incompetence mirrors his own failure in handling the 2014-2015 flash floods, during which he preferred golfing with Barack Obama.

Anyway, Najib was clever enough to read the hostile pulse on the ground, hence his silence and absence on the flooding ground zero. Even on Thursday (Dec 23), seven days since the flooding began last Friday (Dec 17), the dust has not settled as the death toll climbs to 37 with 10 still missing. It’s a suicide mission to go down to the ground while pretending to be a caring leader.

UMNO president Zahid Hamidi, as well as Bersatu president Muhyiddin Yassin and PAS president Hadi Awang all realized that people are still madly angry and frustrated with the clueless and incompetent government. All the three presidents of the largest Malay political parties were “smart enough” to keep their mouths shut, leaving the people to pick up the pieces of whatever was left.

The only idiot who prematurely stepped forward was Noh Omar, who is also Selangor UMNO Chief. He thought he could score some cheap brownie points by visiting some flood victims, expecting some praises and gratitude that Malays would normally express out of respect for a minister. He carefully chose Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Abdul Jalil to deliver some aid to Malay flood victims.

But he was at the wrong place at the wrong time when he received an earful from a Malay woman instead. In a video clip that has gone viral, the woman was seen lecturing Noh that zero action was taken despite numerous calls made to the government agencies. The most humiliating part was when she said it were foreigners – Indonesian citizens – who finally came to the rescue instead of the government.

The woman, one of over 70,000 residents displaced as a result of the flooding, said – “On the day of the incident, we were trapped from midnight until 4.30am. We called every government agency, but no action was taken when we were in a critical situation”. Caught with his pants down, the despicable minister tried to corner the woman, asking if she had called “bomba” (Fire and Rescue Department).

In response, the Malay auntie calmly told Noh Omar, who was visibly irritated even though he was wearing a mask – “We called the Fire and Rescue Department, the Civil Defence Force, and even Sungai Besi Army camp. I even tried calling a local TV3 producer for help. But none helped us, who were trapped in our house. No government agency came to help us”.

Continuing her frustration, the woman said – “Why do the help only come when the flood is already receding? When the water reached the roof, none of them came to help. We were in a critical state on Sunday, but no one came to help except JPAM (civil defence department). But JPAM only sent three boats for the entire Hulu Langat area. Three boats were not enough to rescue everyone”.

After allowing a few seconds for Noh Omar to digest her complaints, the woman appeared to shift to higher gears, mocking and insulting the minister – “This is common sense, right?” Unable to retaliate or retreat as the camera was rolling, Noh reluctantly nodded. But much to the disappointment of the clueless and incompetent minister, she was not done with him.

Like a teacher grilling a lazy student for not doing his homework, the Malay woman asked – “Where were our armed forces? During the 2014 flash floods, the military was already helping when the water was only at thigh-level. If you really want to know, the only people who came to help us were the Indonesians, who came in a sampan to rescue children who were stranded on a rooftop from midnight till 5:30am”.

“They (Indonesians) were the ones who helped us – the foreigners. Where were the government agencies at that time? We even tried the Palace, but no one came to help us”. Noh Omar, one of Najib’s closest cronies, subsequently attracted massive criticisms after the video went viral. While some praised the Malay auntie, many agreed that the minister has failed miserably.

Some people, including Najib Razak, have tried to push the blame to the Opposition, who is the ruling government in Selangor. Exactly what had the state government done to help the flood victims? PKR president Anwar Ibrahim had put on his yellow boots on the ground in Port Dickson. MP Ong Kian Ming had taken to kayaking, leading his team to help about 40 people.

Sure, some may accuse Anwar and Ong of staging a political drama. But did any of the super bloated Cabinet of 73 ministers and deputy ministers pretend to help the people with kayaks? In fact, none of the three presidents of the so-called Malay political parties – Zahid, Muhyiddin and Hadi – care about dirtying themselves to help the Malay community during the flash floods.

Till today, all of them are as quiet as a church mouse, pretending nothing had happened. Like it or not, the Selangor Chief Minister did not have the power to mobilize the armed forces or the police. Why? Because apparently the clueless Prime Minister Ismail Sabri had stripped the Selangor Chief Minister Amiruddin Shari of his state chairmanship of the National Security Council (NSC) since November.

Two days ago (Dec 21), Amiruddin rubbished accusations that his administration had refused to rope in the army to assist in flood relief efforts. He said a call was made to the prime minister on Friday (Dec 17, 8:30pm), appealing for federal assets. However, PM Ismail played “tai-chi”, claiming it was under the jurisdiction of the National Disaster Management Agency (NADMA).

Amiruddin then contacted defence minister Hishammuddin Hussein (Dec 17, 8:45pm) to seek the army’s help, but to no avail. Neither the premier nor the defence minister dare to dismiss the Selangor chief minister’s claims – suggesting that he was telling the truth. It means Amiruddin did not have the power to mobilize the armed forces, but his appeal had fallen on deaf ears.

But why didn’t PM Ismail or Defence Minister Hishammuddin help promptly? That’s because either they were both equally clueless, or they were trying to play politics by sabotaging the Selangor state government. Worse, NADMA also played tai-chi when its chief, special functions minister Abdul Latiff Ahmad, said his agency only manages victim compensation.

If NADMA’s role is just to disburse money, and not get its hands dirty in disaster management like the flash floods, why was the agency established in the first place? Would it not be more efficient for the finance ministry to handle compensation? NADMA should be called NACMA (National “Compensation” Management Agency) instead, no?

There’s also a possibility that Abdul Latiff, a member of Muhyiddin’s party Bersatu, wanted to sabotage Sabri administration and UMNO with NADMA’s refusal to promptly call an emergency meeting and activate the armed forces for search and rescue missions. However, after a meeting on Tuesday (Dec 21), the PM announced that Amiruddin will return as chairman of Selangor NSC.

So, between November and December 21, Noh Omar was the chairman of Selangor NSC. Only when PM Ismail and Noh realized they were not capable of solving the flood problems that they quietly and quickly pass back the chairmanship to Selangor Chief Minister Amiruddin. Unable to save his face, however, the stupid Noh shot himself in the foot again.

The power-crazy Noh Omar now says that he is still the Selangor NSC chairman. He claimed that there are two councils under NSC – one deals with security and public safety while another deals with disaster management. Conveniently, he said he is in charge of security while the disaster management is under Selangor Chief Minister Amiruddin.

Was Noh trying to say there are actually two chiefs in the NSC? It was like saying a company has a CEO in charge of sales and marketing, and another CEO in charge of the operation. But if indeed Amiruddin has the authority to mobilize the military and police during disasters, what is the scope of power of Noh in his capacity as NSC chairman in charge of security?

Like the Malay woman who knocked some sense into Noh’s head, doesn’t common sense say that an NSC chairman in “charge of security”, as trumpeted by him, is the actual person with authority to mobilize the military and police? If Noh Omar was the one with authority to do so, it only means he hadn’t a clue that it was him that should mobilize the armed forces from the beginning.

Noh Omar’s contradiction of job functions in the NSC is both hilarious and pathetic. In the same breath, Najib was talking cock when he suggested that the Selangor state has its own disaster management hence it could solve the flooding problems on its own. After being stripped of his power in November by the prime minister, the Selangor Chief Minister was effectively powerless.

After all, if it’s true that Amiruddin has the power to mobilize the military and police from the beginning, why was there a need for the prime minister to have a meeting to return the state chairmanship of NSC to the Selangor Chief Minister on Tuesday (Dec 21)? Can’t the PM announce that Amiruddin already possessed such authority? Noh Omar was a liar like his former boss Najib Razak.

The fact that the Malay woman in the video clip kept blaming the absence of the Fire and Rescue Department, the Civil Defence Force, and even Sungai Besi Army camp clearly point the finger at the federal government. She did not once blame the state government simply because all along, the national assets under the jurisdiction of the federal government were used to help in times of national disaster.

The problem is easy – lack of coordination due to zero leadership, which led to confusion, despite having the biggest Cabinet in the world. The PM’s order just stopped at his doorstep and was not followed through. That speaks volumes about the quality of the prime minister’s leadership. And it has the cheek to ask donations to be channelled to disaster relief funds organized by the confused and corrupt government. – Finance Twitter