JOHOR BAHRU: Johor Chief Minister Sahruddin Jamal has defended his ongoing working visit to Egypt and Jordan, saying he is closely watching the flooding situation in the state.
A statement issued by his office on Thursday (Dec 19) noted the visit to the two countries was scheduled before floods hit Johor, and that the chief minister was monitoring developments “from time to time”.
"The Johor Disaster Management Secretariat is coordinating relief operations at both state and district levels, and ensuring emergency workers remain at the ready.
"The secretariat is also keeping Dr Sahruddin regularly informed of the latest updates," it said.
The statement came after former Johor chief minister Khaled Nordin criticised the incumbent for being overseas amid severe flooding in the southern state.
Mr Khaled said the overseas trip could be rescheduled if there are more pressing domestic matters.
In response, the Chief Minister's Office noted the visit to Egypt and Jordan is to strengthen Islamic education in Johor through cooperation between the Johor Islamic Studies College and the Al-Azhar University in Egypt as well as various universities in Jordan.
The highlight of the trip was to sign memoranda of understanding with Jordan universities, it added.
The monsoon floods have displaced thousands of residents in Johor since last weekend, but the situation was showing signs of improvement.
As of 2pm on Thursday, only 1,960 people were still seeking shelter at relief centres, compared to more than 9,000 on Monday.
JOHOR STATE GOVERNMENT "PREPARING FOR THE UNPREDICTABLE"
However, the state government is anticipating another wave of floods to hit before year-end.
Mr Tan Chen Choon, a Johor state executive councillor in charge of urban and environmental welfare, told CNA that sufficient resources have been allocated to the state's disaster management committee.
Among the long-term solutions being considered by the state to tackle floods, he added, is to relocate residents living in low-lying areas.
“Natural disasters are unpredictable, but the Johor state government is preparing for the unpredictable,” he said, adding the authorities are working to improve the “disaster resilience” of both government agencies and the community.