Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Skyrocketing Prices in Kelantan

In Kelantan, even as the flood waters recede to give some respite to the folks there – in spite of the massive relief operations being undertaken, aid has been slow to reach the victims.
And this has caused prices of essentials to skyrocket, further burdening the people. It seems that instant noodle (left pic) is sold at RM10 per packet, chicken at RM38 each, 1.5 liter mineral water at RM8 and petrol at RM15 per liter.
Yet the Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin could only say that the government have no control over the sharp surge in the price of goods in that state. Still, he did what he did best – he instructed the Ministry of Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism to ensure that supply of basic foodstuff such as rice, flour, sugar and cooking oil is increased. Duh! Is that all he could manage? Where's the leadership?
Don't expect too much from the PM either. True, he had left Rosmah in Hawaii to return and have a first-hand look at the flood situation. He made lightning visits to some affected areas and on Saturday, he announced a special aid of RM500 million for flood victims. And that was about it! Leadership is sorely lacking in this country.
As at 08:00 AM yesterday, a total of 235,218 people have been evacuated from their homes in Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang, Perak, Johor, Perlis, Selangor and Kedah.

The situation is improving and as at 08:00 AM this morning, the total number of evacuees has dipped to 189,354 in Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang, Perak and Johore. Todate, fourteen people have lost their lives.
I think the public at large knows that the National Security Council's (NSC) disaster management more or less collapsed in the face of the severe weather challenges. NSC secretary Mohamed Thajudeen Abdul Wahab said as much when he was quoted by English daily The Star that they were unable to execute their disaster management plan on the ground as their district level teams could not deploy. In other words, their own staff were among the hundreds of thousands beset by arguably the worst flooding in decades and that they themselves needed help!
This “giver of excuses” further explained that they could not use heavy vehicles, the currents were too strong to use boats and the winds were too turbulent to go by air.
What all the above means is that those affected by the floods will have to fend for themselves as best as they could until help arrives – as and when.
Thajudeen added that their biggest problem was figuring out where help was needed and the extent of the damage caused by the floods in each district, despite having managed to stockpile donations of food and supplies from the public and companies. All I know is that he had made himself sound splendidly stupid.
Didn’t Muhyiddin some time back had said Putrajaya would improve four areas in handling natural disasters such as floods – early warning system, relief centres, food supply, and assets and logistics? Obviously, the intention was not fulfilled. It was all talk and no action. As is normal in Malaysia.
Floods are an annual phenomenon – and the only issue is how bad they can be. Malaysians’ misfortune is that disaster planning is left in the hands of individuals who are evidently less intelligent.
On Monday, I was at Mercu UEM in Jalan Stesen Sentral 5 in Kuala Lumpur Sentral to attend the KL Advanced Toastmasters meeting. This wasn’t the garden-variety Toastmasters meeting because we only had Table Topics. (Not to mention new member induction and an EGM). In fact, there were fifteen of us doing impromptu 1-2 minute speeches and poor Geoff Andrew had to evaluate all fifteen of us in fifteen minutes.

And a sweet touch was added to the proceedings when speakers and role players were all rewarded with Ferrero Roche chocs. A fun meeting!
My fave speaker was a Russian guest who spoke about my favorite topic, i.e. cockroaches!


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