Asia

Malaysia flooding: PM Najib Razak to tour inundated areas

  • 27 December 2014
  • From the section Asia
Media captionMalaysians are angry that during the worst flooding in decades, their leader has been filmed playing golf with President Obama, reports Jennifer Pak

Malaysia is battling some of the worst floods in decades along its east coast, which have killed at least five people.

More than 100,000 people have been forced from their homes, and Prime Minister Najib Razak has returned early from holiday in the US.

He was criticised for playing golf with President Barack Obama, but defended his trip in remarks on Saturday.

Eastern states are often flooded during the monsoon season but heavy rain and winds have worsened the situation.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Prime Minister Najib announced he was cutting short his holiday to visit the flood-stricken state of Kelantan
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Malaysia's government says the flooding is the worst in more than 30 years
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Weather forecasters warned there would be no respite for north-eastern states of Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang
Image copyright AFP
Image caption At least five people have been killed, with one report of a toddler swept away in a strong current

In some areas, entire towns have been submerged.

Darius Dramburg, an eyewitness in the flooded region, told the BBC World Service that his entire village was under water and there was no electricity running in some parts.

"Because there is no electricity there's no water either. The shops have all closed down so we don't know how much food we could get.

"I decided to leave the place now and go down to Kuala Lumpur."

Rescue workers are struggling to bring in enough food and supplies for families sleeping in relief centres.

BBC Malaysia correspondent Jennifer Pak, in Kuala Lumpur, says Mr Najib cut short his holiday after the media published pictures of him golfing with US President Barack Obama in Hawaii.

The images reinforced the belief of some Malaysians that the government has not been doing enough to prevent these annual floods, our correspondent says.

At a press conference in Kota Baharu, the capital of Kelantan province, Mr Najib defended his "golf diplomacy" with President Obama, saying that it was difficult to decline the invitation as it had been planned for a while.

"Every day when I was there, I received the latest report on the flood situation...as it became more serious, I decided to return to the country as soon as possible and went directly to Kota Bharu."

"I have not even returned home yet," he added.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption PM Najib was criticised as photos emerged of him playing golf with President Obama on Christmas Eve
Image copyright AFP
Image caption The government has allocated about $14 million to manage relief centres

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