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Malaysia PM Ismail Sabri tells Cabinet ministers to cancel holidays, focus on flood recovery

Malaysia PM Ismail Sabri tells Cabinet ministers to cancel holidays, focus on flood recovery

Members of the Malaysia Civil Defence Department carry a man, who had been trapped as a result of floods, in Shah Alam, Selangor on Dec 20, 2021. (Photo: AFP/Arif KARTONO)

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's Cabinet ministers who are on leave and planning to go on holiday have been instructed to cancel their plans until the flood disaster in the country is resolved.

Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob on Friday (Dec 24) said all ministers currently abroad have also been ordered to return home immediately.

"I have been deluged with questions about our Cabinet ministers. So, if they are on leave and planning to go on holiday, I want them to cancel that plan.

"If they are currently abroad, return immediately," he told a press conference after visiting flood evacuees at Sekolah Kebangsaan Bukit Piatu in Bentong, Pahang.

The prime minister said he would also have to postpone his work trip to Bangkok, slated for Dec 28 to Dec 30, to give attention to the flood disaster.

"Members of security forces have also been asked to focus on helping the people in cleaning their houses once they are allowed to return home," he said.

Heavy downpours pounded Peninsular Malaysia over the past weekend, in what has been described as a "once in a hundred years" event.

Forty-one people have died in the floods while eight people remain missing, according to the Inspector-General of Police Acryl Sani Abdullah Sani.

He said Selangor has recorded the highest number of deaths, with 25 fatalities, followed by 15 deaths in Pahang and one in Kelantan.

The fatalities in the floods in Selangor involved 17 men and eight women, while in Pahang the victims were eight men, five women and two boys. A man died in Kelantan.

The missing people were reported in Pahang, and involved seven men and a boy.

CLEAN-UP UNDERWAY IN SHAH ALAM

Floodwaters in Taman Seri Muda in Shah Alam - one of the worst affected areas - started to recede on Friday, a full week after the residential area was inundated by floods. Residents have begun the cleaning up process.

Residents were busy cleaning their houses in several residential locations that Bernama checked on.

Some were cleaning their courtyards while others were washing furniture. Many more were salvaging whatever they could as they went through their belongings, throwing away whatever was damaged.

All expressed their relief that they could finally return home and continue with their lives, while hoping that such a tragedy would not occur again.

Resident Azli Mohd Yusof, 43, said it was his first time experiencing a flood since living in the area for the past decade, but he was thankful that nothing bad had befallen his family.

"Alhamdulillah. The situation has improved and our family has been allowed to return home yesterday, after the authorities approved it. We are now rather busy cleaning the house," the father of four said.

L Banathan, 42, was devastated by the floods but was glad that things are slowly returning to normal.

"I only wish that more would help with the cleaning up as there are many piles of debris in the area," he said.

Business owners and their employees were also spotted by Bernama at the commercial centre near Plaza Taman Sri Muda, cleaning up their business premises and assessing the damage wrought by the flooding.

The owner of an electronics store, who did not want to be named, expressed sorrow over the losses he suffered, totalling more than RM100,000 (S$32,000), as most of his products were damaged in the floods.

"But what can I do, it’s already happened. We (businesses) hope that the government will consider additional incentives to flood victims because it is so hard to survive right now," the 39-year-old said.

National Disaster Management Agency operations director Hussein Omar Khan said the flood situation in Taman Sri Muda was improving and water had receded in every flood-affected area.

Residents have been allowed to return home to clean up their residences, but relief centres are still operating until they have completed their clean-up, he added.

"Some have settled back in at home but it does depend on the condition of their houses, some are still taking shelter at centres because there is food, treatment and other facilities offered here," he said.

He added that clean-up efforts in all affected areas were under way, involving officials from various agencies, including the Shah Alam City Council, non-governmental organisations and volunteers.

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