In Temerloh, villagers ‘not on the list’ appeal to NGOs for supplies as village chiefs cherry pick recipients

The Temerloh sign damaged from the floods, January 2, 2015. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng
The Temerloh sign damaged from the floods, January 2, 2015. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

TEMERLOH, Jan 3 — Even as Malaysians from all walks of life donated massive amounts of food and daily essentials to flood victims, some in Temerloh are claiming they have not received any as village chiefs cherry picked recipients.

While authorities handling the rescue and aid distribution operations in Temerloh said they have enough resources to send supplies to evacuees as well as those trapped in their houses, hiccups at the village level are preventing some families from receiving them.

Housewife Hashimah Abdul Halim from Kampung Lubuk Kawah said ample supplies had been given to the village chief to be distributed but her family as well as many others did not receive any as their names were “not on the list”.

“Thank god we have enough supplies as aid was sent in about three times since the flooding began.

“But most of the time they were from NGOs. The government only sent once and they only gave us one kilo of rice,” she told Malay Mail Online outside her home yesterday.

Speaking in Malay, she said her husband has been going to the distribution centre by boat to pick up supplies as well as arrange for the authorities to help send in aid to the villagers here.

Already hosting three families, the 52-year-old said about 40 homes in her village were cut off while three homes were completely flooded.

“I want to appeal to the public, if you want to donate, please do so through NGOs or make arrangements to send them straight to the victims. Don’t go through the village chiefs.

The flood evacuation centre at Sekolah Kebangsaan Kampung Tengah in Temerloh, Pahang, January 2, 2015. — Picture by Siow Feng Saw
The flood evacuation centre at Sekolah Kebangsaan Kampung Tengah in Temerloh, Pahang, January 2, 2015. — Picture by Siow Feng Saw

“I feel for them. As water recedes further tomorrow and people start to go home, they will need supplies such as food and clothes,” she said.

As her husband picked up bags of supplies from a political party yesterday, she said each bag will be delivered straight to the villagers’ homes, regardless of who they are.

A Royal Malaysian Navy officer told Malay Mail Online that people from another village also had the same complaint, but added there was nothing they could do as they were given instructions to pass the supplies to village heads.

Meanwhile, the “lucky” ones who could return home after flood waters receded have started the daunting task of cleaning up.

Abdul Razak Hassan from Kampung Baru Bintang said yesterday was the second day of cleaning the house and his four children, including a 14-month-old baby, wife and mother who is in her 70s will finally get to sleep there after being away for six days.

The 39-year-old said his family had barely enough to eat on the first day at the evacuation centre but supplies began to flow steadily after that.

He even got some supplies to take home with him when he left yesterday. He noted though that the clean-up process would be challenging as all the ATM machines in Temerloh are still underwater and the nearest petrol station had run out of gas.

“I have to get a ride to Jengka or Kuantan to get supplies,” he said.

Kamarulariffin Othman from Kampung Bintang Hulu said his house was spared from the floods, but his shop was completely underwater a week ago.

“I went to help people with my boat, but when I came back, all my things were gone,” he said.

The flood waters finally receded but the shop was filled with mud, trash and several baby eels.

“I only managed to save some things for my family but the rest had floated away with the flood.

“Thank god my catfish cages are still intact,” he said, adding that it will probably take him about four days to be back in business again.

Residents affected by floods at the evacuation centre at Sekolah Kebangsaan Kampung Tengah in Temerloh, Pahang, January 2, 2015. — Picture by Siow Feng Saw
Residents affected by floods at the evacuation centre at Sekolah Kebangsaan Kampung Tengah in Temerloh, Pahang, January 2, 2015. — Picture by Siow Feng Saw

Some who were evacuated to larger schools said that while supplies are sufficient, the centres got too crowded.

“Each family is only given a mat and one blanket. If you have a big family, too bad, you’ll just have to make do,” 57-year-old Rodziah Mat Saman told Malay Mail Online at the Sekolah Kebangsaan Kampung Tengah evacuation centre.

She said her son had gone back to her home to check on the house yesterday and everything was still floating, upside down.

“It’ll probably take us one whole year to replace the things we have lost,” she said.

She had managed to leave the house with her husband, son and daughter on a motorcycle before the roads were flooded. But the water came in too fast, she said, and she could only grab a few important items.

Even with news of water receding in some areas, many parts of Pahang are still underwater and roads still inaccessible.

As of last night, 77,577 people are still displaced with Pahang recording the highest number at 43,832.

Kelantan still has 26,029 people at evacuation centres, Perak 6,963, Sabah 494, Terengganu 143 and Johor 116.

Temerloh Fire and Rescue Department senior enforcer Mohd Arshad Abdullah said yesterday’s operations had scaled down compared to the first few days of the floods.

“We had about 28 trips each day then, to pick up people who were sick or trapped in their houses.

“Today, we only covered 15 locations and we focus more on sending supplies and medication,” he told Malay Mail Online.

Temerloh Fire and Rescue Department senior enforcer Mohd Arshad Abdullah, January 2, 2015. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng
Temerloh Fire and Rescue Department senior enforcer Mohd Arshad Abdullah, January 2, 2015. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

He added that the operations included 15 boats and officers from the Temerloh Fire and Rescue Department, army, the navy, the Jerantut Health Department, and the Marine department.

According to the makeshift map at the operations centre, there are about 35 villages close to the Sungai Pahang river banks. A lot other villages which are further inland could not be reached by boat and had to rely on helicopters for aid distribution.

Mohd Arhsad said operations are expected to last another four to five days.