KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 14 — Malaysia stayed true to the spirit of global solidarity as a humanitarian team landed in the Philippines at 6pm yesterday to aid victims of Typhoon Haiyan.
The team departed from Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) base in Subang at 9am on two C-130 military aircraft, carrying 20 members of the Special Malaysia Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team (SMART), 20 army personnel, doctors, medical assistants, 41 volunteers from Kelab Putera 1Malaysia (KP1M) and members of the media.
The team also brought along 14 tonnes of emergency supplies and medicine.
However, the planes were stranded for three hours in Labuan, as they waited for landing rights from the Philippines, before continuning their journey to Tacloban at 3pm.
The Malaysian government decided to contribute an intial US$1 million (RM3.21 million) to the Philippine government to help relieve their burden following the disaster last Friday.
Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Datuk Hamzah Zainudin said the proposal was made during a meeting between the ministry and related agencies, including the National Security Council.
“It received immediate approval from Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak. This fund will be given to the Philippine government soon,” Hamzah said before the team departed from Subang yesterday.
The team will also supply basic necessities such as food, clothes and medicine to assist the victims and hospitals in affected areas such as Cebu, Iloilo, Tagbilaran and Tacloban.
Hamzah said NSC’s SMART team was tasked to conduct a reconnaissance mission on the ground to set up a field hospital.
“If there is a suitable area, we plan to set up the field hospital which will be fully equipped with medical equipment, personnel and medicines.
“For now, our doctors will be attached to hospitals and field hospitals operated by the Philippine army,” he said.
KP1M president Datuk Azeez Abdul Rahim, who joined the team, said the necessities and medicine they brought was to cater for some 25,000 families and could last a month.