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KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 27 — Freshly returned from abroad, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak acknowledged today the serious floods that have submerged much of Kelantan but insisted that there was no necessity to declare a state of emergency in the northeastern state, according to a news tweet by Bernama.
The national news agency also reported on its micro-blogging account @bernamadotcom the prime minister announcing a special allowance of RM500 million in financial aid to flood victims nationwide.
“If the government announces an emergency, the implications that will arise include the insurance companies being absolved from paying compensation... and compensation arising from damages to property and vehicles is enormous.
“That’s why if we declare (an emergency), this means it includes the ‘force majeure’ category, and insurance companies need not pay compensation (in this case),” he was quoted saying in a later news report by Bernama.
He was also quoted saying the federal government is committed to assisting flood-affected Kelantan, adding that all the relevant agencies had been ordered to intensify rescue and aid operations and to treat the situation as a full-fledged emergency.
According to the Bernama news report, Najib said the RM500 million fund, to be managed by the National Security Council (NSC) was to help residents whose houses and vehicles were damaged by the floods and would not cover the cost to repair damages to educational institutions, government buildings, mosques and other similar buildings.
Bernama also reported the prime minister saying that the next phase of the Bantuan 1 Malaysia (BR1M) cash payment for the lower-income group, initially to be handed out at the end of January next year, would be brought forward to middle of the month in order to help the flood victims.
Najib had touched down at the Sultan Ismail Petra Airport in stricken Kelantan at 1.40pm today, and immediately went to work to tackle the country’s worst flooding crisis in decades.
Bernama reported Najib heading in for a closed-door briefing by the National Security Council on the flood situation in Kelantan, among the worst hit out of eight states nationwide that has seen over 100,000 evacuate their underwater homes.
Pictures of Najib heading out to flooded areas in a military helicopter and visiting the displaced flood victims in makeshift relief centres, including one at SMK Kubang Batang, Tumpat were later posted on Twitter and Facebook.
The prime minister had cut short his holiday in the US to return home following widespread public anger over pictures of him playing golf with US president Barack Obama in sunny Hawaii while Malaysia was being deluged by what some claim to be its worst flood in decades.
Upset Malaysians took to posting messages on Najib’s Facebook account, calling him home to lead the rescue efforts.
Najib said, however, that during his time abroad, he had been in constant contact with the authorities back home.
“I am deeply concerned by the floods. I feel for the people who have lost their homes, and the families who have lost loved ones.
“While I have been away, I have been in constant contact with the National Security Council and the National Disaster Management and Relief Committee, who have assured me that they are doing everything they can to help those who have been affected. But I want to see the situation for myself and be with the people,” he said in a brief statement from his office yesterday.