KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 21 — Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Special Functions) Datuk Abdul Latiff Ahmad today responded to critics who accused him of incompetence by suggesting the deadly floods had been “politicised”.

Abdul Latiff is facing growing calls to resign over allegations that he failed to respond to the floods that hit major areas in the Klang Valley quickly enough, resulting in the deaths of 17 people.

The Bersatu leader is the head of the National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma), the agency overseeing the flood rescue and relief efforts.

He said to reporters this evening that the floods were “unexpected”, seemingly defending himself without stating who he was addressing.

“To the frontliners and victims who were affected by the disaster, this was something unexpected,” the minister told a press conference.

“Therefore, I feel the disaster shouldn’t be politicised because it (the floods) is more a platform that is colour blind,” he added without elaborating further.

Latiff had previously been quoted as saying that Nadma was not directly involved in dealing with natural disasters such as floods at the state level.

The agency was largely responsible for providing compensation after being provided information by relevant state authorities, he suggested.

The statement instantly sparked uproar.

Shortly after the minister went public with the statement, several news reports claimed the Armed Forces were deployed late to the flood disaster areas around the Klang Valley due to Nadma’s failure to coordinate.

Abdul Latiff did not address the allegations at today’s press conference.

* A previous version of this story contained an error which has since been corrected.