KUCHING, 23 Jan 2009: The government will maintain the annual allocation of RM200 million for the Federal Compassionate Aid Fund to provide relief to victims of natural disasters in the country, said Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
The Deputy Prime Minister said that since 2004, the government had spent RM574 million to assist victims of the tsunami, floods, landslides, fires and other tragedies caused by natural disasters in several parts of the country.
“We are prepared to provide assistance to show that the Barisan Nasional (BN) government is deeply concerned about the people’s welfare,” he said at the handing over of aid totalling RM2.9 million to 3,175 families who were affected by the floods, here today.
“I’ve seen the people who were affected. I’m really sad to see the hardship they faced,” he said referring to the massive floods that had hit Sarawak, particularly the Kuching and Samarahan divisions recently.
He said the government were adopting certain procedures in giving aid to the people who were badly affected by natural disasters.
“The concept is not compensation because no government in the world or even in the United States or Europe wants to compensate fully what has been categorised as losses during the floods,” said Najib.
He said government machinery had also been used to transport the victims and their belongings to the relief centres, where donations including food, rice and blankets were distributed.
Out of its concern for the people’s problems, he said, the federal government would consider increasing the facilities provided during the floods in future with the cooperation of the state government.
He said that the country was still in a position to provide aid to the people despite the economic recession faced by the world.
“We are able to govern the country well and continue with development projects for the people and we have not reached a stage where we cut down on projects or reduce the salary paid to government servants,” he said.
Speaking to reporters later, Najib said the government would review the flood alleviation programme in Sarawak, including the deepening of rivers and embankments from the aspect of the requirement and costs involved.
Earlier, Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud said the federal government had never neglected the welfare of the people of Sarawak despite the distance between the state and the federal administration centre.
“We, the people of Sarawak, always get the attention of the federal government just like the treatment received by the people of the other states of Malaysia,” he said. — Bernama