For the first time, an aid package comprising a television set, refrigerator, stove, mattress and pillows altogether worth RM5,000 were given to families in Terengganu who were displaced from their homes due to the devastating floods that hit the country last December, Bernama reported.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, in his speech at a special ceremony to hand out the aid package in Kemaman, Terengganu, said the Barisan Nasional government would always be with the people whether in good times or bad.
"Never before in the country's history, at one event, various type of aid is given to the people. If we were to follow our (government's) policy, we will give cash aid of RM400 to each affected family, but based on what I witnessed during the floods, if maintained, it would have been hardly enough to tide over the losses they had to bear," he said.
As such, he said the government together with the related agencies, political parties and non-governmental organisations took the initiative to render additional aid to lighten the burden of victims of the flood disaster.
"We gave much thought to how we could increase aid in line with our philosophy that the people come first. Who helps the people in good and difficult times?
"Don't try to take the people for a ride, popping in once or twice (to see victims of disasters) and then claim they are the champions of the people, when in fact it has always been Umno and the BN that has been at the forefront in helping the people in their hour of need," said Najib, in an obvious reference to the "parachute" approach taken by certain parties in trying to "portray that they cared for the people", reported Bernama.
The Prime Minister also reiterated that in providing aid to flood victims, the BN government never "picked and choose" who to give or what the victims political leanings were because humanitarian needs transcended politics.
Najib said he hoped aid given by various parties to flood victims in Terengganu would strengthen their spirit to "bounce back" and continue with their lives.
He said what was important was that the method of delivering the aid must be efficient to ensure they reached the people affected.
"As for Terengganu, I understand all victims were given coupons which they could use to purchase necessities from a a certain network of shops," he said.
Bernama reported that the television sets were contributed by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), the fridges by Umno while the mattresses and pillows by Kelab Putera 1Malaysia.
Apart from this, the 19,205 families who were affected by the floods in Terengganu also received cash aid of RM500 from the federal government and RM1,500 from the state government.
Najib also said the government would also be undertaking various projects to tackle flood problems in future.
He said in Kemaman, a flood mitigation project costing RM480 million was in the pipeline while costs for repairing damaged roads, bridges, schools and others in the flood hit states was expected to run into the billions. – January 12, 2014.