KUALA LUMPUR, July 8 — Bukit Gelugor MP Ramkarpal Singh today called for the establishment of a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) to determine the cause of the recent floods in Baling, Kedah.
The Penang federal lawmaker said Energy and Natural Resources Miniater Datuk Seri Takiyuddin Hassan was wrong in saying that a RCI was not needed to determine the cause of the devastating floods.
"The floods have claimed three lives and will undoubtedly result in severe economic loss to residents in the area, with neighbouring Penang also suffering water shortages as a result.
"Takiyuddin’s justification for not having a RCI is premised on purported investigations being already carried out by the relevant departments such as the Kedah Forestry Department.
"It is, however, important to note that there have been allegations of a cover up by the Kedah state government in relation to what caused the floods,” Ramkarpal said in a statement.
The DAP parliamentarian was responding to Takiyuddin's dismissal yesterday to set up an RCI into the Baling floods.
The PAS man insisted that the relevant government agencies are already investigating the cause for the floods and headwater phenomenon that submerged several villages in the area.
Ramkarpal, who is also DAP’s national legal bureau chairman, said the RCI will also determine whether a 52-acre forest plantation upstream from Kupang in Kedah, which was heavily affected, had contributed to the floods.
He said Takiyuddin confirmed that the said plantation was given its permit in 2019 and claimed that the flooding was a natural disaster, even though investigations are supposedly ongoing.
He noted that Kedah Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor had been as quick to pass the buck when questioned over the existence of a Musang King durian plantation in the area, which is being blamed as a contributing factor to the floods.
Ramkarpal said there needs to be transparency in the investigations as it is not certain that the durian farms were the cause of the floods.
"Those responsible must be held accountable and a RCI would be the best forum for the matter to be thoroughly investigated as the commissioners have the power to receive all the evidence and examine all persons pertaining to the matter by summoning such persons to appear before them to give evidence.
"As such, the findings of the state departments investigating the matter now will be subject to scrutiny which will allay fears of a cover up. Other experts may also be summoned to shed light on the matter,” he said.
He said Section 3(1)(c) of the Commissions of Inquiry Act, 1950 allows for the RCI to be held in public which should to be done in this case, in light of conflicting remarks by those in power.
He said the people, especially those in Kedah, have a right to know what caused the disaster and the PAS-led state government should be magnanimous enough to advise the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to convene a RCI urgently for the sake of transparency.
Baling MP Datuk Seri Abdul Azeez Rahim from Umno has backed calls for a thorough scrutiny into the large-scale floods that submerged12 villages and claimed three lives last Monday.
He also called for immediate action by the authorities concerned to prevent a second wave of the floods.
Green group Sahabat Alam Malaysia urged the Kedah government to set up a public commission of inquiry to identify the cause of the flood tragedy.
The aftermath of the Baling floods have been far-reaching, disrupting even water supply in Penang due to the temporary closure of treatment plants in Sg Muda, Kedah.