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Times 4 Feb 07
KL 'not blaming S'pore' for Kota Tinggi flood
Channel NewsAsia 3 Feb 07
M'sian govt says drainage system partly to blame for Johor floods
By Wong Mun Wai
MALAYSIA: The Malaysian government says the drainage system in Johor was inadequate to cope with the recent exceptionally heavy rain. The Malaysian Environment Minister Datuk Seri Azmi Khalid says the government was "not ready".
Last week, the Chief Minister of Johor state, blamed the devastation on Singapore's reclamation works at Pulau Tekong.
The recent floods wiped out much of Johor. The rain was the worst in nearly 40 years and killed at least 15.
Last week, the Chief Minister of Johor state, Abdul Ghani Othman, blamed reclamation works at Pulau Tekong as the cause of the narrowing of the Sungei Johor River mouth, impeding drainage in the state.
But the Malaysian central government stepped in, saying it wanted to carry out a study to determine the cause of the flood.
Initially, it said all sorts of allegations were surfacing and the real cause of the flooding was the exceptionally heavy rainfall. But now the central government is pointing to another cause.
Datuk Seri Azmi Khalid, Minister, Malaysia’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, said: "It was much, much higher than the highest rainfall in the past 100 years. And we're not ready for this kind of thing."
But the Minister distanced the government from comments made by the Johor Chief Minister, blaming Singapore's reclamation works as the cause of the flooding.
He said: "It's not conclusive because it didn't come from us. So it is not a government official view."
So poor infrastructure and heavy rain are being blamed for the floods.
But Malaysia is planning to carry out a technical study and that should reveal the finer details to the cause of the floods that forced more than 100,000 people into emergency shelters.
The Malaysian Minister is in Singapore as part of an annual exchange of visits, between the environment ministers of both countries. The Ministers discussed issues such as the control of vehicular emissions and haze.
Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Environment & Water Resources Minister, said: "We're all equally concerned because this year is a likelihood of an El Nino year. It's going to be a dry year and if the haze comes about again, we have to be able to put our plans quickly in place."
This is the 20th time the environment ministers are meeting under the annual exchange of visits. - CNA/so
Straits Times 4 Feb 07
KL 'not blaming S'pore' for Kota Tinggi flood
MALAYSIA'S Environment Minister said yesterday that it is not his government's view that Singapore's reclamation activity contributed to the floods in Kota Tinggi.
Datuk Seri Azmi Khalid, who was in Singapore for an annual environmental meeting, said the claim 'is not conclusive. It didn't come from us. So it's not an official government view'.
He made the remarks to reporters when asked to comment on Johor Chief Minister Abdul Ghani Othman's claim last Tuesday that massive land reclamation works by Singapore at Pulau Tekong at the mouth of the Johor River had contributed to the floods in Kota Tinggi.
Datuk Seri Azmi conceded that Malaysia had not been ready for the massive floods, which displaced more than 120,000 people. 'The amount of rain that came was much, much higher than the highest rainfall in the past 100 years. We were not ready for this kind of thing,' he said.
His delegation met officials from Singapore's Environment and Water Resources Ministry, led by Minister Yaacob Ibrahim, yesterday.
One salient issue which surfaced at the meeting was the haze problem. Said Dr Yaacob: 'We're all equally concerned because this year there is a likelihood of an El Nino year. It'll be a dry year. If the haze comes again, we will have to be able to put our plans quickly in place.'
He said both countries have agreed to work closely to combat the haze problem.
Other areas that were discussed included the control of vehicular emissions and the joint monitoring of water quality in the Strait of Johor.
This is the 20th time that the environment ministers of the two countries have met under the Annual Exchange of Visits framework. Dr Yaacob said the two sides had a good meeting.
Meanwhile, reports from Johor said Malaysia's government plans to implement measures, possibly as early as this year, to prevent a recurrence of the devastation caused by the recent floods.
Deputy Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak said the government's flood mitigation plan will scrutinise the condition of rivers and drainage facilities across the country, especially in the worst-hit areas where flood waters remained stagnant for weeks before receding.
'We will have to look at all these problems that cropped up,' he told reporters yesterday while touring Kota Tinggi district, which was almost completely inundated during the monsoon season.
Related articles on Global issues: climate change; wild shores and haze
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