GEORGE TOWN – Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng today admitted that the state government needed to review its standard operation procedures (SOP) for disaster management to have better joint operations between state and federal agencies.

He said the state government needed to have better coordination with all agencies, especially federal agencies and the Meteorological Department, to be better prepared to face disasters such as the unexpected strong winds and heavy downpour yesterday.

“We need to have better coordination with the Meteorological Department because nobody expected this heavy rain and winds, the winds were incredible last night, it was like a typhoon here,” he said in a press conference at the state flood operations centre in Komtar today.

He said if the state has better coordination with all agencies, especially the federal agencies, then the state could immediately call in the armed forces for assistance when the need arises.

“With better coordination, the armed forces can come in to help immediately and be ready to help instead of me calling the Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi at 3.30am,”

“I called him three times before he picked up. I feel so sorry but I was desperate. Luckily, he picked up, he immediately responded and got the army to assist,” he said.

Based on this, Lim said there should be a better SOP so that the state can have a closer cooperation with federal agencies in times of disaster such this.

“If we have this coordination, we can ask the armed forces to help right from the beginning, what matters most is that we can immediately get to those who needed help fast,” he said.

Lim thanked Zahid for immediately offering his assistance without hesitation regardless of political differences especially during a time of extreme need.

“He called me again this morning to give his assurances that he will help Penang to face the challenges of the disaster. We thank a leader who offered to help regardless of political differences and we thank the army for coming in to help,” he said.

Earlier, Lim said there was no need for the state to call for a state of emergency in the wake of the worst floods to hit the state last night.

“The situation right now is still under control after cooperation and help from federal government after the strong wings and worst flood in the whole of Penang’s history,” he said.

He said the state government will only announce a state of emergency if the need arises after discussions with the federal government on the matter.

He called on all employers to understand and give time to their affected workers to clean up their flood-damaged homes.

“All state and federal agencies are working together to clean up all affected secondary schools to be ready for the SPM examinations tomorrow,” he said.

Lim believed the extraordinary storm that hit Penang last night was due to the side effects of the Damrey Typhoon that hit Vietnam.

Damrey, with wind speeds up to 90km/h is reported to have caused 27 fatalities since it made landfall in Vietnam yesterday, damaging more than 400,000 homes and uprooting trees and electricity poles.

Lim confirmed one foreigner in Seberang Perai and two senior citizens in Jalan P. Ramlee on the island were killed last night due to the floods.

He said more than 100 areas in the state were affected by fallen trees and landslides in the state and all five districts in the state were hit by floods.

– Malay Mail