Malaysia PM Mahathir wants Asean to help disaster-struck Indonesia

Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad expressed confidence that each member state of the ACDM would extend assistance to Indonesia through their own disaster management body. PHOTO: REUTERS

PUTRAJAYA (BERNAMA) - Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on Thursday (Oct 4) that the Asean Committee on Disaster Management (ACDM) has a major role to play in coordinating and extending assistance and support to Indonesia in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit Sulawesi last week.

He said several areas in Sulawesi - Palu, Donggala and Sigi - suffered massive destruction in the catastrophe, with more than a thousand reported deaths, while more than 60,000 homes were damaged and 60,000 more people were displaced.

"While such a tragedy is heart-wrenching, as neighbours, we do not want to be sitting and watching from the sidelines. But to attempt to help without proper coordination and strategic planning will result in causing a chaotic situation (to be) more chaotic. Instead of helping, we may end up troubling the other rescuers. It is obvious that under such circumstances, ACDM has a major role to play," Tun Mahathir said at the opening of the 33rd meeting of the ACDM and 6th Asean Ministerial Meeting on Disaster Management (AMMDM), besides related meetings, in Putrajaya on Thursday.

Also present were Deputy Prime Minister Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, Asean secretary-general Kim Jock Hoi and director-general of the National Disaster Management Agency of Malaysia (NADMA) Mohtar Mohd Abd Rahman.

Dr Mahathir expressed confidence that each member state of the ACDM would extend assistance to Indonesia through their own disaster management body.

"Together, I am sure we can help our neighbour to ease her burden," he said.

He said Malaysia's NADMA has been coordinating with relevant agencies and stands ready to deploy search-and-rescue teams as well as provide humanitarian assistance to the government of Indonesia.

At the event, Dr Mahathir also witnessed the handing over of humanitarian aid worth RM1 million (S$333,100) to the Sulawesi Aid Fund. The mock cheque was presented by Datuk Seri Wan Azizah to an Indonesian representative.

Dr Mahathir said the risk of disasters should be taken seriously, in view of the severity of the impact to lives and livelihood, as well as the development of nations.

He said almost half of the disasters in the world occurred in Asia, making this region the world's most disaster-prone area.

According to the global data, he said, for the period from 2000 to 2017, the Asia-Pacific region accounted for 45 per cent of global disasters, 60 per cent of global disaster mortalities and 85 per cent of global disaster-affected people.

Asean's strong commitment to reducing the impact of disasters should be reflected in its joint response to disaster emergencies, apart from working towards becoming a world leader in disaster management, said Dr Mahathir.

Asked about media reports that three deep-water buoys used to gather data for a tsunami early warning system were disposed of, as they were no longer functioning, he said the government would look into the reports.

The installation of the Norway-made equipment, worth RM7.2 million, had been done in phases since 2006 at three locations - the Andaman Sea, Sulu Sea and South China Sea.

The tsunami buoy project, or tsunameter, is the result of a Malaysia-Indonesia collaboration following the 2004 Aceh earthquake and tsunami, which killed more than 230,000 people from 14 nations, including Malaysia.

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