‘Where was Welfare Department’s flood relief supplies?’

Looi Sue-Chern

Penang exco Dr Afif Bahardin showing a picture of a mattress and pillows bearing Prime Minister Najib Razak’s face that were given to flood victims by Kelab Putera 1Malaysia last week. – The Malaysian Insight pic, November 13, 2017.

A PENANG government exco today asked why the state Welfare Department had no funds for disaster relief, unlike a civil society organisation linked to the federal government.

Dr Afif Bahardin (PKR-Seberang Jaya) said the department could not provide basic disaster relief supplies after flash floods hit Penang on November 4 and 5.

However, three days later, Kelab Putera 1Malaysia arrived in Penang with some 10 trailers loaded with supplies like mattresses and pillows, he said, adding that the trailers were even escorted by police outriders.

Dr Afif said he was not slamming the Welfare Department, a federal body, or questioning the sincerity of the club by raising the matter.

“I am asking why the department had no funds to make sure it has the supplies ready to face disasters. We all know that floods often happen towards the end of the year. What is the federal body’s standard operating procedure in facing floods?

“I am also asking how much funding Kelab Putera 1Malaysia had for the flood relief effort and where the money came from. Did the money come from donations from the people, or Saudi Arabia? 

“Show the accounts of where the money came from and how it is spent,” he said at a press conference at the state legislative assembly lobby today.

Dr Afif, who is state health, agriculture and agro-based exco, said the federal government must be in trouble if a civil society organisation had more money for disaster relief supplies than it did.

Dr Afif said it was “sad” that the supplies only arrived three days after the floods hit Penang.

“I think we should have an explanation for this. Even Prime Minister Najib Razak should offer an explanation because his face is on the disaster relief supplies.”

He held up a photo of a mattress bearing pictures of the prime minister and the Umno logo.

“We are afraid to tear off the plastic, which would remove the PM’s face. It might become problematic or seditious, tearing up the PM’s picture,” the PKR Youth deputy chief quipped.

Dr Afif earlier got into a heated exchange with Muhamad Farid Saad (BN-Pulau Betong) over the flood issue as the former was delivering his winding-up speech at the state legislative assembly.

Farid said Kelab Putera 1Malaysia came to Penang to help flood victims.

He likened the club to the Tzu Chi Foundation, an international humanitarian organisation, and told Dr Afif not to politicise the matter.

Dr Afif responded by saying that Tzu Chi was not headed by politicians and did not put his face or Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng’s face on pillows and mattresses. – November 13, 2017.

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