Media Statement by Loke Siew Fook in Petaling Jaya on Tuesday, 9th December 2008:

The Federal Government must handle the relief efforts in the Bukit Antarabangsa tragedy professionally and fairly 

It is very disturbing to hear that many residents living within the danger zone at Bukit Antarabangsa refused to move out from their houses although advised by the authorities for fear of their belongings being stolen. This shows that the confidence level to the rescue team in particular the police force is at a very low point. Although the place is currently very dangerous and facing a tragedy, the fact that the people there have no confidence in the police to take good care of their properties and safeguard their interest reflects very badly on the professionalism of the police force.

The Federal Government must view this concern seriously and immediately direct the Inspector General of Police to give full assurance to the public that the police will act professionally in handling the tragedy and any wrongdoings or theft by any quarters will be taken sternest action. DAPSY hopes that the residents will move out voluntarily for the time being to avoid any mishaps and to facilitate all rescue efforts.

DAPSY expresses our sympathy to all the victims in the Bukit Antarabangsa tragedy and we shared their sorrows and sadness. We urge the government be it federal or state to provide all necessary assistance to the victims and the affected residents.

However, the government must be seen as acting fairly and must not be seen as giving double-standard treatment. We feel uncomfortable with the suggestion by the International Trade and Industry Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to provide free hotel rooms to the affected residents. This is most unprecedented.

We would like to remind the government that if this is done for Bukit Antarabangsa victims, then it will open a precedent for all natural disasters victims in the future. Is the government prepare to provide free hotel rooms for all victims whenever there is a disaster be it in kampong or small villages? In other areas, the government has always relocates the affected residents in community halls or schools as a temporary measure.

We have nothing personal against the residents in Bukit Antarabangsa but the government must treat all victims in such tragedy fairly and equally.

* Loke Siew Fook, DAP Socialist Youth (DAPSY) National Chairman & MP for Rasah