Malaysia's floods send over 48,000 people into shelters

Vegetable prices up as bad weather exerts toll on farms; supply to Singapore also hit

A family resting in their tent at a relief centre in Kota Tinggi, Johor, earlier this week. Thousands of such tents have been set up at more than 200 relief centres in the east coast states of Malaysia as well as eastern parts of Johor amid floods ca
A family resting in their tent at a relief centre in Kota Tinggi, Johor, earlier this week. Thousands of such tents have been set up at more than 200 relief centres in the east coast states of Malaysia as well as eastern parts of Johor amid floods caused by heavy rain.PHOTO: BERNAMA
A road connecting Bandar Al-Muktafi Billah Shah in Malaysia's Terenggnau state to three villages inundated with flood water yesterday. The number of flood victims in the east coast state totalled 12,899 yesterday morning. PHOTOS: BERNAMA
A road connecting Bandar Al-Muktafi Billah Shah in Malaysia's Terenggnau state to three villages inundated with flood water yesterday. The number of flood victims in the east coast state totalled 12,899 yesterday morning. PHOTO: BERNAMA

More than 48,000 people in six Malaysian states were sheltering in relief centres yesterday to escape rising floodwaters as monsoon rain continued to lash parts of the country.

The number of evacuees has more than doubled from the 20,575 reported on Wednesday.

Apart from those evacuated in the east coast states of Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang, and in eastern Johor, several dozen people were evacuated from rural areas in Perak and Sabah states, Bernama news agency reported.

Malaysia's flood crisis, which is into its third month, has sent vegetable prices soaring, with delivery to Singapore affected due to the closure of flooded roads.

Federation of Malaysian Vegetable Farmers Association president Lim Ser Kwee said prices have risen as the bad weather has affected output. "There has been no sun for one week, and rain for three to four days. So the vegetables can't grow," Mr Lim told The Straits Times. He said the prolonged rainy season also caused a drop in supply by around 30 to 40 per cent. The price of chye sim has increased from RM3 (S$1) a kg to RM4, while the price of long beans has risen to RM8 a kg from RM4 last month, he said.

Mr Bernard Teh, manager of Yong Kah vegetable farm in Simpang Renggam, Johor, which exports 60 to 70 per cent of its produce to Singapore, said deliveries were affected as some roads are closed due to the floods.

Non-stop heavy rain over the past 72 hours caused his crops to die, with production over the last one to two weeks dropping by more than 50 per cent.

"The supply issue may continue until after Chinese New Year," he said, as vegetables such as beans and cucumbers require 60 to 80 days to mature, while leafy vegetables will need 20 to 30 days.

Mr Momy Ket Jik, senior sales manager at Singapore's Ban Choon Marketing, said vegetable supply from Malaysia has been affected since last week, causing the company to rely more heavily on its other import sources.

Also, floods in some areas have led to a decrease in quantity and increase in prices, he said.

Pahang state is the worst hit in the current rainy season, with 27,073 evacuees from nine districts, Bernama reported.

In neighbouring Terengganu state, the number of flood victims totalled 12,899 yesterday morning. North-east Kelantan state had 6,319 people in relief centres.

Johor had 1,276 evacuees. There were 359 people in Perak relief centres and 35 in Sabah.

Meanwhile, the Singapore Red Cross said it would contribute $50,000 to support relief and recovery operations by the Malaysian Red Crescent Society.

 • Additional reporting by Ng Keng Gene

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 09, 2021, with the headline 'Malaysia's floods send over 48,000 people into shelters'. Print Edition | Subscribe