Over 100,000 people have been evacuated after floodwaters battered towns and villages in northern Malaysia, according to a report by Bernama, Malaysia’s official news agency. The country, which is routinely hit by seasonal floods, is struggling to cope with the latest deluge, reportedly being described as the worst in decades.
“I have asked the deputy prime minister to enhance operations to deliver aid in the form of food due to the difficulty to reach certain areas affected by the floods,” Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said, in a statement released Thursday, adding that high levels of floodwaters and strong currents were making it difficult to deliver food and medical supplies to some of the worst affected areas.
According to media reports, at least five people have so far died in the northeastern states of Kelantan and Terengganu. Train and road transport links have also been cut off to many of the northern states, hampering rescue and relief efforts. Malaysia's meteorological department warned that heavy rains and flash floods could continue along the coastal regions until Sunday, according to local media reports.
Meanwhile, after reports of Razak playing golf with U.S. President Barack Obama in Hawaii were published Wednesday, the Malaysian prime minister faced severe criticism for his absence during a time of national crisis, according to media reports.
“How can you smile and happily play golf with Obama while the people at home are terrified and confused about what will happen to them and their property,” a Malaysian opposition leader said, according to a report by Malaysia Chronicle.
However, responding to the criticism, Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin reportedly said that there was “no need for Najib to come back immediately.”
“The PM needs time to take a break … he has been working very hard so let's be fair to him as a human being,” Yassin reportedly said. “I told him not to worry and to have trust in me, we will manage the issue in whatever way we can.”