DAP calls for public inquiry to find the answers to the heart-rending cry of tsunami victim Ooi Boon Kim, who lost six family members, on behalf of bereaved families of over 65 fatalities as to why the various government authorities had failed to sound any warning of danger although it had two to three hours lead time before killer waves unleashed by the 9.0-magnitude Sumatra mega-earthquake hit the Malaysian coasts
Media Conference Statement
- when visiting the tsunami disaster site at Pulau Betong, Penang with DAP Penang MPs and leaders
by Lim Kit Siang
(Penang, Thursday): Malaysians, the government (Federal, State and local government), civil society and the people, must come out of the denial syndrome in regarding Sunday’s killer tsunami waves and the over 65 fatalities it had caused in Penang, Kedah, Perlis and Perak as fated and “act of God”, which must be accepted fatalistically as being beyond human intervention.
I find such a view completely unacceptable, and I fully agree with the statements of German experts quoted by yesterday’s Bernama report from Berlin under the heading “German Experts Say Tsunami Death Toll Was Avoidable”, that the death toll and destruction wrought by the tsumani emanating from the undersea epicentre in Sumatra in some of the countries was preventable – and Malaysia is clearly one of these countries where the overwhelming majority of the death toll could have been avoided, having a lead time of two to three hours.
out by the German meteorological experts in the Bernama report, the
catastrophe of death and destruction could have been prevented if an early
warning system had been installed and the respective governments of the
region had been proactive about the people's safety, particularly in the
Yesterday, when together with DAP MPs Chong Eng (Bukit Mertajam), Chow Kong Yeow (Tanjong), Lim Hock Seng (Bagan) and DAP Penang State Assemblyman Phee Boon Poh (Sungai Puyu), I visited the Ooi Boon Kim in Bukit Mertajam who lost six family members to Sunday’s tsunami disaster at the Pasir Panjang beach near Pulau Betong on the Penang island, he asked a heart-rending question which deserve a proper answer as this is a question that is being asked by bereaved families, relatives and friends of the over 65 tsunami fatalities in Penang, Kedah, Perlis and Perak, as well as by ordinary Malaysians.
His heart-breaking question is why the Federal, state and local government authorities had failed to issue any warning of danger although they have two to three hours of lead time before the killer waves unleashed by the 9.0 magnitude Sumatra mega-earthquake hit the northern coasts of Malaysia.
Yesterday the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi announced that he had directed all the relevant agencies in Penang and Kedah to immediately conduct a post-mortem on the tsunami that struck Malaysia on Sunday in order to introduce a standard operating procedure in facing a similar disaster in the future.
The post-mortem is to ensure that early preventive measures could be put in place and to identify and overcome whatever shortcomings in the search and rescue operations as well as in providing assistance to the victims.
This is a step in the right direction – a courageous move by the Prime Minister to puncture the denial syndrome which had befogged the handling of the tsunami disaster. However, a post-mortem by the relevant agencies in Penang and Kedah is not adequate to deal with the horrendous failure of our national warning system to deal with disasters.
DAP calls for a public inquiry to find the answers to the heart-rending cry of tsunami victim Ooi Boon Kim, who lost six family members, on behalf of bereaved families of over 65 fatalities as to why the government had failed to sound any warning of danger although it had two to three hours lead time before the killer waves unleashed by the 9.0-magnitude Sumatra mega-earthquake hit the Malaysian coasts.
Ordinary Malaysians may not know that tsunamis are predictable after an earthquake, but there is no reason or excuse for those in Federal, state and local governments who are paid to look after the safety and welfare of Malaysians to be unaware of something which will be known to those who are well-informed on the subject.
The Penang Meteorological department received a fax from its headquarters, the Federal Meteorological Department in Petaling Jaya, two hours after the latter had picked up the earthquake off Sumatra on Sunday at 8.58 a.m., without any warning or instructions as to what should be done.
This does not speak well for the department’s efficiency, whether at headquarters or at the Penang end. It also reflects most adversely on the absence of a mindset in the public service which is necessary if we are serious about wanting a “First World Infrastructure, First-World Mentality”.
If those in
charge of the Meteorological Department, whether at the national or Penang
state level, had the mindset, motivation and commitment of Fauzi Yacob, the
recreational manager of Batu Ferringhi’s Grand Plaza Park Royal Hotel,
whose knowledge, quick-thinking and warning enabled him to recognize the
danger signs of an impending tsunami and saved more than
* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman