PETALING JAYA - The coming north-east monsoon season is expected to lash six Malaysian states with heavy rains, and the government is making early preparations to prevent any major problem.
Disaster management committees at the district level have been instructed to be immediately activated, while RM8 million (S$2.48 million) has been allocated to 160 districts for operational purposes.
The government has also allocated RM4.8 million to provide 320 fibreglass boats for the various districts, said Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob.
At the same time, 6,010 temporary relief centres (PPS) nationwide - which can house 1,620,855 flood victims - were being readied by the Welfare Department.
Last year, eight of the 11 states in Peninsular Malaysia were hit by floods between November and December, with parts of the country drowned by the heaviest rainfall in 100 years, officials had said.
The worst hit areas around the capital city Kuala Lumpur were the districts of Kuala Muda and Hulu Langat in Selangor.
Some 60,000 people were placed in relief centres in late December at the height of the year-end monsoon season last year, with at least 54 deaths recorded.
This time around, the Malaysian Meteorological Department has forecast that the north-east monsoon will hit six states from November this year to March next year.
Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang are expected to experience heavy rains from November to December while Johor, Sabah and Sarawak are expected to face the same from December to January.
"District disaster management committees (JPBD), chaired by the district officer, are to be immediately activated.
"The JPBD has an important function to carry out rescue work and aid delivery at disaster locations while the National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma) and the state disaster management committees (JPBN) will coordinate at central and state levels respectively," Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri said in a statement Monday.
Earlier Monday, he chaired the central disaster management committee meeting which was attended by the Chief Secretary to the Government, Chief Ministers and Menteris Besar, the Public Service director-general, state government secretaries as well as government agencies.
Mr Ismail also said the government has allocated RM2.59 million to upgrade basic facilities such as bathrooms and toilets in all temporary relief centres.
The Education Ministry has also been told to open school dormitories which are not occupied to the public, especially the elderly, children and women.
Within the first 24 hours of any disaster, the Welfare Department must provide food, as well as the needs of babies and the elderly, such as disposable diapers, at the PPS, Mr Ismail added.
Meanwhile, Nadma has distributed 59,350 food kits and 127,272 cubicle tents to the PPS, he said.
"The state and district level disaster management committees need to prepare in advance to ensure that aid supplies reach all locations early, before roads are cut off and so on during the actual disaster," he said.
He added that a total of 79,549 officers, security agency members and rescuers at all levels were on full standby.
"The government has also mobilised 22,622 water assets such as boats, boat trailers and jet skis from all agencies nationwide," he said.
The meeting also agreed that the disaster early warning sound would be different from other sirens such as ambulances and police patrol cars to avoid confusion, he said.
Mr Ismail added that the state and district disaster management committees must ensure that the early warning systems were working well.
"Those living in low-lying areas are asked to always be aware of disaster early warnings and evacuate immediately if instructed by the authorities," he said.
To improve the preparedness, Mr Ismail said 155 community-based disaster risk management programmes involving 12,534 participants had been held. THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK