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Failed warning system

  • Education and a positive attitude are prerequisites to bring the harm of natural disasters to a minimum. Photo courtesy: AFP

Sin Chew Daily

The international community has responded to pleas of help from Indonesia after the earthquake and tsunami in Sulawesi. As a neighbor, we have sent our Special Malaysia Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team (SMART) to the country and have allocated RM500,000 to help the victims.

As for private organizations, Fo Guang Shan and the Chinese rescue teams are on standby to offer assistance while Medical Relief Society (MERCY) will send its personnel and medical supplies.

Meanwhile, Yayasan Sin Chew has also initiated a fund-raising campaign to help the quake-tsunami victims rebuild their homes. we urge the readers to contribute generously with the hope the victims can get back to their normal lives as soon as possible.

Malaysia and Indonesia are neighbors and regional partners. In the event of the merciless natural disasters, the Malaysian government and private organizations have held out their helping hands instantly in a show of humanitarian spirit.

Be it physical actions, financial or material assistance or even moral support, these are what the Indonesian victims need most at this time.

Traffic and telecommunication in disaster-hit areas have been disrupted, posing greater challenges to the rescue workers there. Because of severe lack of food and other supplies, many disaster survivors have to go without food for days, as the dead have to be buried hurriedly in mass graves to prevent spread of diseases.

Ample food and medical supplies need to be provided to meet the need of the injured, and international rescue teams must hurry to the disaster zones to prevent the situation from getting worse.

Asean secretariat should play a key role during such a critical moment to amass and coordinate the strengths and resources of member states to help international rescue personnel overcome the various obstacles and challenges so as to relieve the pressure of the Indonesian authorities.

In addition to rescue works, the effectiveness of early tsunami warning system has also come into international limelight.

The Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning System constructed by several nations after the 2004 South Asian tsunami has failed to issue early warnings due to lack of coordination among governments. For example, when an early tsunami warning was issued after an offshore earthquake on Java Sea, the government failed to announce it to the pubic, resulting in severe casualties.

Without proper maintenance, the early warning system will not work optimally when a disaster strikes, more so if government officials and members of the public generally lack crisis awareness.

Indeed Indonesia has wanted to build a more sophisticated system so as to speedily issue warnings to the public, but due to poor bureaucratic attitude and failure to secure government allocations, the system remains unimplemented.

To prevent a similar disaster from claiming precious human lives and properties, an advanced pre-warning system is indispensable. The bureaucracy and the public need to change their attitudes and adaptability and not to overlook any warning issued.

Ineffective warning system is common in countries and territories with relatively poor education standards. This serves to highlight a point that education and a positive attitude are prerequisites to bring the harm of natural disasters to a minimum.



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