Halim Ali should forget about  crisis management courses for top officers and instead   send in expert crisis management task forces to take over the handling of  the water crisis in the Klang Valley and the nation-wide haze crisis to make them models of crisis management for government officers


Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang  

(Penang, Sunday):The Chief Secretary to the Government, Tan Sri Abdul Halim Ali announced two days ago that all senior government officers will be required to undergo a course on crisis management in view of the ineffectiveness of some departments and agencies in handling problems citing as examples the water crisis, the haze problem and the illegal construction of Hindu temples.

Halim said: “In fact, some of them have incurred public wrath for their incompetence and for miserably failing to come up with immediate solutions and remedial measures to overcome the problems.”

Malaysians are now faced with multiple crises and the water shortage crisis in the Klang Valley and the nation-wide haze problem are daily causing distress, hardships and sufferings to the people.

Halim struck the nail on the head when he said that the various crises which had hit Malaysians recently have exposed the shocking inability and failure of the various government departments and agencies to respond in an effective and efficient manner, showing their utter unpreparedness  in the important field of crisis management.

What is the  use of the National Institute of Public Administration (Intan) organising crisis management courses for all senior government officers, when Malaysians are still in the throes  of multiple crises - whether the water shortage crisis, the clean air crisis, the food shortage crisis in Sabah or cost-of-living crisis.
Instead of holding crisis management courses for top officers at Intan, Halim’s  top priority is to  send in expert crisis management task forces to take over the handling of  the water crisis in the Klang Valley and the nation-wide haze crisis and make them real-life lessons for all senior government officers as to  what is the meaning of efficient crisis-management.

It is ironic and tragic that the same day the Chief Secretary to the Government was talking about the need for crisis management courses for senior government officers in Kuala Trengganu, the people of Klang Valley were suffering even more acute hardships  caused by poor crisis management or even a total lack of a sense of crisis management.

An unscheduled water disruption, affecting one million more consumers in the Klang Valley apart from the two million consumers who were already subject to water-rationing scheme, threw households, factories and businesses into pandemonium for the past two days.

The three terminals at the Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah International Airport was without water for a day. Many restaurants in Petaling Jaya and Kuala Lumpur were forced to closed early yesterday due to the water disruption because of a burst pipe in Sungei Buloh,and some  areas went without water for six to seven days as a result of the new crisis.

It is most shocking that after two months of water-rationing in the Klang Valley, the waterworks and other relevant authorities have not learn the most  rudimentary  rule of efficient crisis management, which is to secure public understanding and co-operation by keeping them  informed about the latest developments - that the people can accept bad news but not no news or  information whatsoever.

The people did not know what was happening, whether there was a sudden unannounced extension of the water-rationing scheme, as there was silence on the part of the Selangor Waterworks Department.

Why was there a complete breakdown of the various hotline services and why wasn’t  radio and television immediately used to inform the public to  prepare them for the long disruption?

Halim should forget about organsing crisis management courses for senior government officers in Intan, but should send in expert crisis management task forces to take over the handling of  the water crisis in the Klang Valley and the nation-wide haze crisis to make them into  model cases  of crisis management.

Senior government officers should be seconded to such crisis management teams to learn how to efficiently and competently conduct crisis management.

The question is whether there are such expert crisis management task forces which could be despatched whether by Intan or  by the Chief Secretary to the Government to take over the crisis management of the water shortage crisis in the Klang Valley and the nation-wide haze crisis.

If there are no such expert crisis management task forces in the country, what is the use of academic crisis management courses in Intan for senior government officers?
 

(10/5/98)


*Lim Kit Siang - Malaysian Parliamentary Opposition Leader, Democratic Action Party Secretary-General & Member of Parliament for Tanjong