PRIME Minister (PM) Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said yesterday the Asean Committee on Disaster Management (ACDM) has a major role to play in coordinating and extending assistance and support to Indonesia in their undaunting task in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit Sulawesi last week.
He said several areas in Sulawesi — Palu, Donggala and Sigi — suffered massive destruction from the catastrophe and the reported deaths are more than a thousand, while more than 60,000 homes are damaged and 60,000 more people are displaced.
“While such a tragedy is heart-wrenching, as neighbours, we do not want to be sitting and watching from the sidelines.
“But to attempt to help without proper coordination and strategic planning will result in causing a chaotic situation be more chaotic. Instead of helping, we may end up troubling the other rescuers.
“It is obvious that under such circumstances, the ACDM has a major role to play,” the PM said at the opening of the 33rd meeting of the ACDM, 6th Asean Ministerial Meeting on Disaster Management (AMMDM) and related meetings in Putrajaya yesterday.
Also present were Deputy PM Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, Asean secretary general Datuk Kim Jock Hoi and the National Disaster Management Agency of Malaysia (NADMA) DG Datuk Mohtar Mohd Abd Rahman.
Dr Mahathir also expressed confidence that each member state of the ACDM would extend assistance to Indonesia through their own disaster management body.
“Together, I am sure we can help our neighbour to ease her burden,” Dr Mahathir said.
He said Malaysia’s NADMA has been coordinating with the relevant agencies and stands ready to deploy search and rescue teams as well as humanitarian assistance to the Indonesian government.
At the event, Dr Mahathir also witnessed the handing over of humanitarian aid worth RM1 million to the Sulawesi Aid Fund. The mock cheque was presented by Dr Wan Azizah to an Indonesian representative.
Dr Mahathir said the risks of disasters should be taken seriously in view of the severity of their impact on lives and livelihood, as well as the development of nations.
He said almost half of the disasters in the world occurred in Asia, making this region the world’s most disaster-prone area.
According to the global data, the PM said, for the period of 2000 to 2017, the Asia-Pacific region constituted 45% of global disasters, 60% of global disaster mortalities and 85% of global disaster-affected people.
“Malaysia is in full agreement that disasters should not be viewed within the context of natural catastrophes, but to be assessed alongside human crises and conflicts.
“The Asean Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response has proven to be the regional treaty that has been hailed as among the world’s best practice, progressive and comprehensive and legally binding for all the 10 Asean member states.
“Asean’s strong commitment to reducing the impact of disasters should be reflected in its joint response to disaster emergencies apart from working towards becoming a world leader in disaster management,” he said.
Dr Mahathir also proposed an e-time capsule for a resilient Asean that may include the state of disasters’ whole cycle in the region by referring to the World Risk Index or any other globally accepted indicators.
“It can be unlocked as early as 2025 in conjunction with the Asean Community Vision 2025 or in 2030 for comparison to the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.
“I hope this idea can materialise at the 7th AMMDM in Myanmar. If possible, with the assistance of the Asean Secretariat,” he said. — Bernama