RM300 ‘wang ehsan’ on the spot

Nazri says payment for flood victims to be made to every household evacuated; no need for name-list

Flood victims will now receive ‘wang ehsan’ of RM300 per household from the compassionate fund as soon as they are told to evacuate.Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Tan Sri Abdul Aziz, in announcing this yesterday, said the government was implementing this new mode of disbursement to ensure that the money truly reach the victims.

“We want the money to reach those deserving of it as fast as possible, so we are now trying to give out the money as soon as these victims have to evacuate,” he told reporters at the new State Legislative Assembly complex while on a working visit here yesterday.

Nazri, who is also the National Disaster Relief and Management Committee chairman, said under the new system, the government would not have to wait for the name-list of the victims.

All that would need to be done would be to identify those in need of the ‘wang ehsan’ as soon as they arrived at evacuation centres, he said.

However, he said, the new system would call for strong cooperation from district offices for it to work effectively.

He said without such cooperation the system could still be manipulated by fake beneficiaries claiming they were victims of floods.

According to Nazri, for the flood earlier this year, RM49 million was spent for Sarawak alone, of which RM41 million was ‘wang ehsan’, RM633,548 for re-construction works in Baram and RM6.9 million for five Bailey bridges in Ba Kelalan.

He said for future floods, the government would provide 50 to 100 mobile toilets to the state’s evacuation centres to improve sanitation.

He said schools and community halls were often used as evacuation centres and the toilet facilities might not be enough, therefore, mobile toilets would definitely help a lot.

He said he would also look into fulfilling the wish-list of Sarawak Disaster Relief Committee on essential things and equipment that would be of great help to the state greatly during a flood.

He conceded that Sarawak needed more help since it was a vast state and that the federal government understood the state’s predicament especially where logistics was concerned.

Yesterday’s working visit saw Nazri presenting 20 rescue boats costing about RM1.1 million to the state government.

Each boat is said to cost RM54,880.

He said the Fire and Rescue Department would be responsible for the maintenance of these boats made available through the National Safety Council.

Meanwhile, Sarawak Disaster Relief Committee chairman Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Dr George Chan said that his committee would submit its wish-list straight away and had briefed Nazri on it earlier on.

“We have briefed him already, among which was on the cost to equip some of the operation rooms and also some emergency funds. These are the two main things,” he said.

He said one of the worrying things the committee wanted strengthened was the distribution of food and essential items during flood.

He said the government could not simply depend on the Welfare Department to do this and had roped in the army for help.

“We find that in some areas, it takes a longer time for food to reach centres (evacuation) so whoever reaches there fast, we get them to distribute,” he said.

Dr Chan said hopefully all mechanism would be in place before the next round of flood occurs.

By Puvaneswary Devindran

Borneo Post 3/12/2009

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