SHAH ALAM: The Malaysian Armed Forces will carry on dispensing its duty despite the criticism thrown at it, says one of its senior officers.
Brigadier Gen Noorrul Azril Ariffin, the operations commander of the army’s Taman Sri Muda flood command post, said he is aware of certain quarters claiming there was inaction when water levels started rising.
“We are very aware of that sentiment, but we have been here since day one (Saturday). We are working round the clock, and logistics are in place so that the men can work in shifts and have ample rest.
“We accept their views and criticism, but we are trying our best to help the victims. From the criticism that we receive, we will fix what we can and continue our efforts to help,” he added.
Noorrul Azril said those who are still sceptical can come down to the ground to see the work done by the army for themselves.
Regardless of some negative sentiments on cyberspace, Noorrul Azril said morale among his men remains high, with everyone deployed on the ground fully aware of their responsibilities.
“Those sent here are those who are trained for this type of work. From a logistical standpoint, we are also in a good spot. These types of operations are not new to us, and we are following our SOP (standard operating procedure) and templates that have been previously established.
“Our operations started on Saturday itself, and we have established our command post here.
“Twelve boats from our side, and around 300 soldiers are stationed here, and as far as Selangor is concerned, a lot of our efforts are focused here.
“We work closely with the other agencies like the police and firefighters. Most of our work is rescue related, as well as food distribution,” he said when met on the ground yesterday as a team from The Star managed to embed within the army team.
Noorrul Azril added that on the first day, water levels were so high that the entire ground floors of houses were flooded.
“It’s better today, but in the middle of the area, the water is still at waist level,” he said.
The Star’s observation of soldiers as they delivered food using boats to badly hit areas around Taman Sri Muda found the soldiers exhibiting camaraderie, and their arrival at several inundated homes was greeted with smiles of relief.
Those in still flooded areas welcomed the sight of the soldiers, with many sharing laughs together for a while, despite the damage and destruction around them.
Soldiers asked whether any residents needed a boat ride to anywhere nearby, while drink packets were shared with those seen wading towards their flooded homes.
Shelf stable food and drinking water were distributed to those who preferred to remain in their homes, even if some houses were still without electricity.
Some residents even recognised the team that The Star followed yesterday as the soldiers quickly assessed how well they were faring.
“Ok ke kak? (Are you ok?). Air ada, biscuit ada (we have water and biscuits),” one of the soldiers shouted across to a flooded house that was still housing people on the second floor.
Inside, an elderly woman waved enthusiastically, recognising a few of the soldiers in the boat.
“Nasi ada tak encik? Yang lain ada (Do you have rice? We have the rest),” she asked as she lowered a pail from the second floor to collect bottles of drinking water from the team.
A moment of laughter erupted between the two groups, with friendly banter from the army, and soldiers saying that they would bring rice the next time they make a trip to the area.
Asked why she refused to leave her home, the woman said she could still stay on the second storey, and that her daughter was with her.
This scenario was repeated numerous times throughout the three hours The Star was inside Taman Sri Muda.
The team also acted on a tip-off that a child was still trapped in a house. But when the boat arrived at the address, it turned out to be a false alarm as the family inside had opted to wait in their house until the water subsides.