DAP suggests that the immediate aid of RM1,000 each for the families who died in the tsunami disaster announced by Najib be increased to RM5,000 each, using the MPs’ annual development allocations, and the use of the RM6 million from the annual development allocations for 12 DAP MPs in aid of victims of the giant tidal waves
- when visiting the tsunami devastation sites and victims in Penang
by Lim Kit Siang
(Penang, Tuesday): I welcome the quick and positive response of the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak to the proposal that the National Disaster Relief and Management Committee which he heads should learn from the failure to have a tsunami early warning system that could have saved scores of lives lost in Malaysia in the devastating killer seismic waves on Sunday.
Najib said last evening before leaving for Langkawi after visiting the tsunami devastation sites in Penang that the government will seek Japanese expertise to set up a tsunami alert system to face the eventuality of a similar onslaught in future. He said that the country had never before experienced such tidal waves and now it was crucial that this initiative be taken.
I am not interested in any “blame game” and the country and the people should not indulge in any binge of “fault-finding”, but we must be rational and courageous enough to learn the lessons from our mistakes and weaknesses to ensure that avoidable and preventable human toll and sufferings are not be repeated in the future.
Seismic events like earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions cannot be prevented from happening, but the most rudimentary monitoring, public warning systems and education could have saved many lives.
One lister on the Bungaraya mailing list yesterday gave the following understandable response to my proposal for a tsunami early warning system:
“I doubt it will save scores of life if there had been a warning system.Here in Batu Ferringhi, despite shouts and urges from the beach boys and the locals to the tourists (mostly local tourists) to run for higher ground when they saw the waves coming in from afar, people still kept on swimming and taking photographs of the waves.”Such trifling with death, which stem from ignorance, did not happen just in Batu Ferrringhi in Penang but throughout the ravaged coasts of nine countries in Asia and Africa, with local people and tourists flocking to the beach to watch the spectacular waves, only to be swept into the water in the tsunami terror, instantly transforming for instance the paradise oasis in Phuket into a living hell.
The inability and failure of Malaysia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, India and other countries to make full use of the two to three hour lead time over the killer monster tidal waves caused by the most powerful earthquake for 40 years has resulted in a terrible toll in the loss of human lives which has now reached 25,000 in nine countries and may eventually be more than double this figure, with millions of people uprooted from their homes.
I have been informed by parents holidaying with their children at the beaches on Sunday that the thought of safety in the waters had struck them when they had felt the tremors when the Sumatra earthquake struck earlier, but as there had been no warning about the possibility of a tsunami – regardless of its probability – after an undersea earthquake, everyone in the vulnerable areas were not prepared to brace for the worst by taking precautionary measures to escape to higher ground or inland, which would have saved many lives.
Yesterday, Najib announced immediate aid of RM1,000 each for the families of those who died in the tsunami disaster. The government should increase this immediate aid to RM5,000, by making use of the MPs’ annual development allocations, which come to RM500,000 per year.
DAP has 12 MPs and this RM500,000 annual development allocations each come to RM6 million a year. We have not received a single cent, and we propose that this entire RM6 million be devoted for the establishment of a special disaster fund in aid of the tsunami victims - for the families of those who suffered bereavement, the injured or the rehabilitation of fishing boats and businesses wrecked by the giant tidal waves.
* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman