Best be ready for floods and GE15: Reezal Merican

Best be ready for floods and GE15: Reezal Merican

Housing and local govt minister says FRD prepared for deployment should disaster strike

KUALA LUMPUR – Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican said he is ready to deal with floods as well as the 15th general election at the same time if the polls are held during the year-end flood season.

He said it was best to be “ready for both”, and that the Fire and Rescue Department (FRD) which is under his ministry, is prepared to handle flood disasters should they occur.

“As minister of housing and local government, my priority is to ensure FRD is prepared for any disasters – should they take place during the northeast monsoon season.

“And as a party member, I am ready for both possibilities, I will abide if GE15 is held (during that season),” the minister from Umno told reporters at a fire department event in Putrajaya today.

Reezal Naina said while it would be “impossible” to hold elections during floods, at the same time, it is hard to predict when the floods would happen.

“I am confident that an election cannot be held when it is flooding, but I reiterate, we cannot determine accurately when floods will happen.

“As I don’t know when floods will happen and since I also don’t know when GE15 will happen, I have to be at the highest level of readiness for both. I say expect the worst, even if we don’t know whether it will happen.”

The minister added that the cabinet did discuss holding GE15 amid possible flooding at its weekly meeting yesterday. While various ministers gave their opinions, no decision was made.

Transport Minister Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong also confirmed that the cabinet discussed the matter yesterday, stressing that the timing of the election is up to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

It was reported by Utusan Malaysia today that the cabinet is divided over holding GE15 soon, with ministers from Bersatu and PAS raising objections.

Ministers who have publicly disagreed or shown reluctance about holding GE15 during the flood season are Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim, and Religious Affairs Minister Datuk Idris Ahmad.

Khairy said it was not appropriate due to the amount of manpower needed to manage both a national election as well as flood relief centres and evacuations. The Umno politician also pointed out that schools are often used as relief centres, but in an election, they are also used as voting centres.

Shahidan, also from Umno, called for an in-depth study as polling during floods would affect voter turnout.

Idris, who is from PAS, said the party’s representatives in the government will suggest that GE15 not be held this year as floods will make it difficult to manage the election.

Ismail Sabri has been under pressure from his party Umno to hold GE15 this year.

Umno Youth chief Datuk Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki today said the election could still be held before the monsoon season, which is to start at the end of November according to the Meteorological Department.

In a Facebook post, he said that based on the department’s prediction, polls could still be held before the end of November, if Parliament is dissolved early next month.

“This will be two or three weeks before the heavy rain begins,” he said.

– The Vibes, September 22, 2022.

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