KUALA LUMPUR, June 21 — The Department of Civil Defence (JPAM) will become stronger and more credible after the Civil Defence (Amendment) Bill 2016 which was passed by the Senate today is gazetted.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim said among the steps taken to empower civil defence agencies under the Bill are a more systematic management of assignments for JPAM to provide humanitarian aid in the future.
At the same time, he added the amendment would also provide protection for the rights of JPAM staff and volunteers who did not turn up for work because they were carrying out civil defence duties.
Shahidan said this in his winding-up speech here after the amendment was debated by 12 Senators.
The amendment which was passed by the Senate on May 26, also proposed that the minister provided for the public to undergo civil defence training.
The minister could also give honorary and associated recognition to anyone he deemed fit.
The amendment also provides the Yang di-Pertuan Agong the power to appoint a Chief Commissioner, his deputy, a commissioner, deputy commissioner, assistant commissioner, colonel and civil defence officers from among the permanent and volunteer members.
The amendments also allows a fine of up to RM10,000 or imprisonment of up to five years or both to be imposed on any person who impersonates a member of the team.
Other matters allowed under the amendment is the formation of the Civil Defence Corps in schools, marine division and forest rangers.
“We want to help enforce the laws and curb issues which result in damage and disasters such as illegal logging as there are insufficient forest rangers.
“So we will work together to protect forest areas especially forest reserve lands and government forest areas throughout the country. When there is no action, more offenders will go scot free,” he said, adding that plans to set up the new wing were in the final stages.
Shahidan said the JPAM Marine Division would focus on national water border areas in the South China Sea and Straits of Malacca.
Meanwhile, the JPAM Ranger Division would ensure forest areas were safe from encroachment and help the Forestry Department monitor the situation.
During the debate, Senator Datuk Dr Lucas Umbul said JPAM’s new image to be known as the Malaysian Civil Defence Force would add credibility to the agency in defending the nation.
Meanwhile, Senator Datuk Seri Boon Som Inong said students, who were JPAM cadets, could be made full-time officers of the Civil Defence Force as was done in the armed forces.
“This would enable more graduates to join the civil defence and improve the quality and image of the force in this country,” he said. — Bernama