Malaysia GE15: Some candidates pivot to aid efforts as flood victims exceed 3,000
Caretaker home minister Hamzah Zainudin said certain types of assistance cannot be rendered during the campaigning period as stated under the Election Offences Act, making it hard to channel aid to flood victims.
KUALA LUMPUR: Some candidates who are running for Malaysia’s 15th General Election (GE15) had to suspend their campaigning and pivot to aid efforts, as several areas in the country were affected by floods.
As of morning on Wednesday (Nov 16), a total of 3,196 flood victims were in 28 temporary evacuation centres in six states, namely Perak, Selangor, Johor, Kelantan, Melaka and Penang.
As a result, the campaigning events of several candidates from Barisan Nasional (BN), Perikatan Nasional (PN) and Pakatan Harapan (PH) were postponed as aid efforts took precedence, according to Bernama.
Several candidates were seen wading through floodwaters to meet and offer aid to flood victims.
One of them was Nurul Izzah Anwar, the PH candidate for the Permatang Pauh parliamentary seat, who was attired in a baju kurung (traditional wear) and a raincoat.
Other candidates in Selangor also had to adjust their campaign arrangements. In the Sungai Buloh parliamentary constituency, BN candidate and caretaker health minister Khairy Jamaluddin postponed his election campaign to meet residents affected by the floods.
Selangor chief minister Amirudin Shari, who is the PH candidate for the Gombak parliamentary seat, and Dr Halimah Ali, the PN candidate for the Kapar parliamentary seat, were among those who shelved their election campaigns to visit the flood-hit locations.
MetMalaysia had forecast that the Northeast Monson will begin in mid-November and last until March next year, bringing with it heavy rains that can cause floods in low-lying places as well as king tides in the coastal areas.
On Monday, MetMalaysia forecast that the weather on Polling Day this Saturday is expected to be good in the morning in several states.
According to its website, the department is forecasting no rain in the morning in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Negeri Sembilan, Melaka and Johor.
However, MetMalaysia is predicting thunderstorms and rain in most states in the evening, especially on the East Coast states of Pahang, Terengganu and Kelantan. The same also applies to northern states namely Perlis, Kedah, Penang and Perak which would experience rain and thunderstorms in the morning and evening.
Due to the uncertain weather, the Selangor Fire and Rescue Department has mobilised personnel and assets to several locations, especially along the coast and near rivers, to monitor the possibility of flood occurrence.
“Firefighters will be on standby due to the weather conditions, stagnant rainwater or rising water levels. We will use assets such as boats and transport trucks,” said department director Norazam Khamis who was quoted as saying by Bernama.
In Pahang, BN’s candidate for the Raub parliamentary seat, Chong Sin Woon, said Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) has a special team ready to be mobilised at any time to help the people in areas at risk of flooding to enable them to exercise their right to vote.
MCA is one of the component parties in BN.
He acknowledged that floods or heavy rain on Polling Day would, to some extent, influence the decision of voters whether to go out and cast their ballots.
“If it rains heavily, voters who are not staunch supporters of any party will not see the urgency to go out and vote. However, to encourage them to come out, we can send vehicles and provide umbrellas. We are ready for that,” he said.
Thomas Su Keong Siong, the PH candidate for the Ketari state seat in Pahang, said he believes that voter turnout will be low if there are floods.
“I hope there will be no floods although it is raining frequently now. Imagine…if your house is flooded, will you have the mood to go out and vote? It will be selfish of us to ask the people to vote but not help them,” he said, according to Bernama.
In Kelantan, the state United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) liaison committee chairman, Ahmad Jazlan Yaakub, said that the Kelantan BN machinery is ready with boats and food to assist the authorities in rescue operations and evacuation of flood victims.
Over in Terengganu, 30 flood-risk locations have been identified in four districts, namely Kemaman, Dungun, Hulu Terengganu and Besut.
State secretary Tengku Farok Hussin Tengku Abdul Jalil said RM2.5 million (US$551267.90) had been allocated for the provision of food and other necessities for flood victims.
DIFFICULTIES IN CHANNELING AID DUE TO ELECTION OFFENCES ACT
On Wednesday, PN secretary-general Hamzah Zainudin said certain types of assistance cannot be rendered during campaigning period as stated under the Election Offences Act, making it hard for the caretaker government to channel aid to flood victims.
“We are sad. Now we have more than 3,000 flood victims who had to be moved to the relief centres.
“If it were not for GE15, we could focus on helping them. But now, everything is in chaos,” said the caretaker home minister, as quoted by the Star.
There are more than 900 candidates contesting in GE15 where some 21 million eligible voters will choose among them to be elected to the 222-seat Lower House of Parliament on Nov 19.
Early voting took place on Tuesday.