Malaysians offer help to flood victims amid criticisms over government's slow response

So far, over 68,000 people from more than 18,000 household across the Peninsular of Malaysia have been displaced. PHOTO: EPA-EFE
Residents cleaning up mud and debris is Tam Sri Muda on Dec 23, 2021. PHOTO: THE STAR PUBLICATION
Kelantan Fire and Rescue Department Anwar Abu Bakar (third from right) giving an aid package to a flood victim on Dec 22, 2021. PHOTO: FOTOBERNAMA HAK CIPTA TERPELIHARA
Some of the residents taking shelter at the Ladang Emerald Flood Relief Centre in Taman Sri Muda on Dec 23, 2021. PHOTO: THE STAR PUBLICATION
A collapsed house by the rive in Hulu Langat district in Malaysia on Dec 22, 2021. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysians are banding together to overcome the hardship from what has been officially called once-in-a-100-year heavy rainfall.

Other than organising independent missions to rescue those who are still stranded, some Malaysians from across the country are offering free services, such as cleaning and repair works, to flood victims.

Housewife Ika Fikri, 29, said she was prompted to offer laundry services after seeing the aftermath of the floods.

"I don't have much money but I have some energy to spare, so this is me contributing to the society because 'kita jaga kita' (we look after ourselves)," said the mother of one who lives in Shah Alam, Selangor.

Madam Ika was referring to a Malay phrase used by Malaysians as a reminder that, ultimately, it is up to the community to collectively protect itself.

A “kita jaga kita” movement was launched at the height of the pandemic by social media users, following the government’s alleged inefficiency in containing it.

This time, the government also faces criticisms for not issuing early warnings and for its slow response in rescue and relief efforts, prompting individuals to step in.

Food-delivery rider Azhan Mat Alif, 23, is offering free delivery services for good Samaritans who wish to transport foods and goods to flood victims.

"I decided to offer myself as a designated rider at a relief centre in Klang too, because that's the least I could do. In fact, there are many of us (riders) doing our part together," he told The Straits Times.

Rain on Wednesday morning (Dec 22) raised water levels in some parts of Selangor, and officials were pleading with evacuees not to return home yet.

As at Thursday, the death toll from the severe floods sweeping the country stood at 37, with at least 10 people still missing.

So far, more than 68,000 people from more than 18,000 households across Peninsular Malaysia have been displaced. Six states - Perak, Selangor, Negeri Sembilan, Melaka, Pahang and Kelantan - and the capital Kuala Lumpur are severely affected.

As of Dec 23, the death toll from the severe floods sweeping the country stood at 37. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

Out of the seven, Pahang is the worst hit, with the authorities warning that Sungai Pahang has reached dangerous levels.

"Last month, my house in Kedah was flooded, but a team of volunteers from Klang Valley came to help. Now that Klang Valley people needed help, I decided to travel here with my four-wheel drive and a boat, I would like to return the 'favour'," said Mr Ahmad Danial Azim, 49.

IT services company Topone Technology has come up with an initiative that provides free computer repair service.

"We started on Dec 21, and the response has been great, but so far, only 20 computers have been sent to users. The rest are waiting for the floods to subside," a representative told ST.

Housewife Nadiah Rosdi, 38, said a total of 1,160 food packages and necessities such as medicine, blankets and sanitary pads have been distributed to victims in Shah Alam and Klang, in Selangor.

"With the help of families and kind strangers, my friends and I managed to raise more than RM40,000 (S$12,945) for this effort. We hope this nightmare will end soon," she said.

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