Relentless rain fell on the 17th of December, 2021 and floodwaters rose to unprecedented levels. According to a senior government official, the rainfall experienced in 3 days was more than the average rainfall in a month. The neverending pitter-patter supposedly only occurs once in 100 years. While the sun is out now, #MalaysiaBanjir is still a developing story. Relief and rebuilding efforts are still ongoing. This is what we know so far…
The Big Picture
A weekend of torrential rain started on the evening of Friday, 17th of December 2021. The Meteorology Department of Malaysia alerted its social media followers that rainfall is expected in many states of Malaysia. It is part of the departments’ responsibility to monitor and forecast weather.
However, rain is a normal occurrence in tropical countries such as Malaysia. Flood occurs once a year especially states in states on the East Coast of Malaysia (i.e. Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang) due to the monsoon season. What is uncommon, however, is flooding in central Malaysia. What was missing was the preparation and weather warning system that should have alerted citizens.
The disaster supposedly stemmed from Super Typhoon Rai that had debilitated our neighbouring nation, the Philippines. Consequently, the rainfall that central Malaysia witnessed over the weekend exceeded the average of 60mm of rainfall normally recorded. The rainfall last weekend (17-18 December 2021) passed 380mm.
An occurrence, the Environment and Water Ministry (KASA) secretary-general Zaini Ujang claimed: “only happens once in 100 years” .
With no preparation or warning provided to many urban dwellers, those who were commuting back from work on Friday evening were stranded on highways, train stations as rivers overflowed onto the major roads. The state of Selangor, Malaysia’s economic focal point and densely populated state was badly affected.
With the floodwater receding, Malaysia is faced with the aftermath. As of 25th December 2021, 46 have reportedly been killed nationwide as a consequence. The death toll is set to rise in the following days, as many are still missing.
Assistance Given By Government And Other Agencies: A Timeline
Friday – 31st December 2021
- Many electrical appliances can no longer be salvaged following the flood, thus the government gave out a RM 500 rebate on its purchases. Purchases of electrical goods at selected premises and e-commerce platforms.
Tuesday – 29 December 2021
- The government’s current aid consists of RM1,000 per household, RM1,000 vouchers to assist with car repairs . Thus far, the Malaysian Family Flood Aid allocation is RM1.4 billion.
- An injection of RM 50 million to badly affected states such as Pahang and Selangor to assist with recovery processes.
Monday – 27 December 2021
- The National Higher Education Fund (PTPTN) had made loan deferment for flood victims easier with no documents are required to apply for the promised aid.
- There would be no Employee Provident Fund (EPF) withdrawals under the I-Citra scheme as the government is offering many other schemes to assist individuals and businesses to recover from the flood.
Sunday – 26 December 2021
- Perbadanan PR1MA Malaysia has allocated another RM 3 million for flood aid, bringing the total amount of contribution by the agency at RM 5 million. In addition to this, PR1MA is providing further assistance by distributing waterjets to clean the affected areas.
Saturday – 25 December 2021
- The government has agreed to give 3-month loan deferment to National Higher Education Fund (PTPTN) borrowers in light of the flood. Affected borrowers can apply for the deferment starting from 28th December to 31st March, 2022.
- The government will contribute RM 10,000 to the next-of-kin of those who were killed in floods, in addition, the government agreed to contribute funds to non-governmental organisations to assist with post-flood cleaning and recovery.
Friday – 24 December 2021:
- The Bantuan Wang Ihsan (BWI), a special aid provided by the government will now also include RM 5,000 to assist next-of-kin with funeral arrangements of those who passed away as a consequence of the flood. The aid is however only open to Malaysian citizen, a victim of the flood, residing at a house that was affected by the flood and the registration should be made under the head of the family’s name.
- The Ministry of Education (MOE) announced that the schools will re-open on the 9th for schools in Group A (Johor, Kedah, Kelantan, Terengganu) and 10th of January for schools in Group B (comprising schools in other states and the federal territories. The action is taken as some schools were utilised as temporary evacuation centre (PPS) and there are schools that have been badly affected during the floods.
Thursday – 23 December 2021:
- The Pahang government provided RM 500 flood relief aid to victims to those affected in Pahang to cope with post-flood recovery processes.
- The National Higher Education Fund (PTPTN) under the Prihatin Squad Flood Relief Mission joined hands with Dana Kita, a non-governmental organisation provided one flood relief kit to more than 1,000 flood victims in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and east coast Malaysia.
- Initiatives to ease the burden of micro, small-medium enterprises (MSME) was announced by the Prime Minister. This includes interest-free personal loan financing under Bank Simpanan Nasional (BSN) with payment moratorium extended for the first 6 months for flood victims.
- The 1Malaysia People’s Housing Programme (PR1MA) is doing their part in easing the burden of their affected employees and PR1MA homebuyers. Through their Flood Disaster Relief 2021 #PR1MAKita initiative, PR1MA will be directly contacting affected buyers to assist them in the best way possible. PR1MA is also providing assistance in the form of food baskets, daily essentials including 2,000 sets of mattresses, pillows and blankets along with 3,000 sets of towels. 400 PR1MA employees will also be dispatched to participate in aid distribution and cleaning affected houses.
- The National Disaster Management Agency (NADMA) clarified only one Malaysian head of flood hit household would be eligible to receive the one-off Bantuan Wang Ihsan (BWI) provided for flood victims. Even though a house is lived by multiple families, only one head of household can apply and if it is a rented property, either tenant or landlord whom applied is eligible to receive the aid. The aid can be applied via respective district offices and in temporary evacuation centre (PPS), victims can refer to personnel or staff at the PPS.
Wednesday – 22 December 2021:
- The National Disaster Management Agency (NADMA) denied previous media report regarding the agency’s reluctance to allow military involvement in flood relief. The Director-General of NADMA, Datuk Dr Aminuddin Hashim claimed that all parties involved are well-aware of their roles during a crisis as a meeting was held on the 13th September 2021.
- Flood victims are exempted from paying replacement fee over missing driving license, road tax and vehicle ownership certificate (VOC). Those who have lost their identification related documents such as MyKad, passport and other important documents under the the Home Ministry would be given replacement free of charge.
- The Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI) through Technology Park Malaysia (TPM) are mobilising several drones owned by Malaysian companies to aid with flood relief missions.
- Despite Mydin’s managing director, Datuk Ameer Ali Mydin forgiving the action of the looters whom resorted to desperate measures for survival, 31 individuals were arrested by Shah Alam police officers. All suspects were foreigners or migrant workers comprising 10 Indonesian, 7 Bangladeshis, 9 Nepali, 5 Myanmar nationals and are being investigated under Section 457 of the Penal Code.
Tuesday – 21 December 2021:
- Reportedly, the Malaysian Armed Forces were already on the ground Friday noon (17th of December 2021). However, no approval was given from NADMA. Despite this, the Armed Forces helped with the relief.
- The blame game among various agencies and individuals is ongoing. At the same, desperation and the need to survive had led many to loot convenience stores. This only led to the authority mobilising crime prevention teams.
- The Prime Minister admitted that there are shortcomings in Selangor’s flood management. Flooding in Selangor is an uncommon occurrence as opposed to the annual flood in the East Coast part of Malaysia, thus there is a lack of preparedness when facing the crisis in Central Malaysia.
- A compensation of RM 10,000 will be given to families who perished during the flood in Selangor. At the same time, RM 1,000 will be given to flood victims to aid them with cleaning and post-flood recovery. Water bill fees will be waived for a month along with waivers on the repayment of loans taken under the Yayasan Hijrah Selangor (Hijrah) for two months.
Monday – 20 December 2021:
- The Prime Minister emphasised that actions are being taken and the relevant agencies and assets have been dispatched, detailing the government’s action plan. He also considered the lack of sustenance in Selangor’s Pusat Pemindahan Sementara (PPS) or temporary evacuation centres as “solved” with Jabatan Kebajikan Rakyat (JKM) / Welfare Department providing meals to the evacuees.
- The lawmakers raised the ongoing flood issue and the slow progress of the rescue mission. Yet the Dewan Rakyat speaker, Tan Sri Azhar Azizan Harun rejected it under the defence that it was already in the past and isn’t part of the meeting order.
- The National Aid Disaster Management Agency (NADMA) claimed that the role of their organisation is to distribute compensation and not to provide assistance during natural disasters.
- Health Minister, Khairy Jamaluddin warned that there will be a rise in COVID-19 cases due to the flood circumstances. Health ministry officials have been deployed to screen victims to ensure that infection is contained. Face masks and sanitisers are being distributed to temporary evacuation centres nationwide.
Sunday – 19 December 2021:
- The Prime Minister visited the flood-affected areas in Klang. An announcement of an initial fund of RM 100 million to aid with post-flood recovery. Flood-hit households would receive RM 1,000 each.
- Public servants affected by the flood were given paid leave and employers in the private sectors were “encouraged” to follow suit.
- The Employee Provident Fund (EPF) allocated RM 10 million for flood relief programmes, channeling the fund to various non-governmental organisations. On top of that, EPF offers the utilisation of their learning centre in Bangi as a shelter for displaced flood victims. EPF employees are also raising funds through Kongsi Rezeki Programme and EPF branches nationwide will be mobilising resources to ensure business continuity.
Saturday – 18 December 2021:
- The Prime Minister held a press conference later than the scheduled 11 pm acknowledging that many are affected by the flood and help is on the way.
- Selangor’s Chief Minister, Amiruddin Shari and rescue team late Saturday night were on the ground at Taman Sri Muda, an area that was badly affected by the flood. On his Twitter, he pleaded for the Federal government and the military team to deploy assets and assist with rescuing victims.
Malaysians Helping Malaysians
Through the #DaruratBanjir Twitter hashtag, netizens on the ground are disseminating information about victims who are still trapped in their houses, families waiting for rescue on top of house roofs and the rising water level on rivers nationwide since Saturday, 18 December.
Netizens convened and together directed rescue missions on the ground, those at home donated any amount they could to aid and strangers offered assistance to fellow Malaysians during these tough times.
A gurdwara in Petaling Jaya, cooking day and night serving meals for flood victims. Link
A Burmese gentleman saved the life of a Malaysian through his innovative styrofoam raft. Link
It isn’t over. How can you help?
We have compiled a list of organisations and individuals on the ground, helping the flood victims.
However, donation either monetary or in-kind isn’t just the way to assist affected households, you can offer your services by volunteering for organisations out there:
- Cuci Malaysia is looking for volunteers to aid with post-flood clean up.
- Gurdwara Sahib has been cooking up tirelessly day and night to feed the flood victims and they appreciate volunteers to help them.
List of organisations you can help:
Cover image: AP/ Chan Yoke Poh, retrieved from detik.com
Last updated: 31st December 2021