No plans to declare emergency yet despite heatwave: Malaysia government

Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid said the present weather conditions would last until September, with temperatures expected to soar above 40°C in August.


Latest updates: A staff of the Malaysian Meteorological Department showing the hotspot areas on a digital screen map. — AZHAR MAHFOF/The Star

May 17, 2023

PUTRAJAYA – There are no plans to declare an emergency for now with the continuing severe heatwave, the government announced.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the situation could change and the government would then be prepared to issue such an order.

“We have put in place proactive and preventive measures such as cloud seeding to face the heatwave. For now, we don’t think there is a need for an emergency to be declared.

“But if need be, we will issue Directive 20 of the National Security Council for an emergency to be called,” he said after chairing the National Disaster Management Committee meeting here yesterday.

Ahmad Zahid said the present weather conditions would last until September, with temperatures expected to soar above 40°C in August.

Asked if an emergency would be declared then, he said the authorities would continue to keep a close watch.

“If there is going to be an emergency, we will announce accordingly. The weather conditions are being monitored round the clock nationwide,” he added.

The Climate Emergency Coalition of Malaysia had called for the government to treat the current high temperatures as impacts of a climate emergency.

On cloud seeding, the Deputy Prime Minister said this was to avert potential water woes due to the hot spell and would be done at seven dam areas which have shown signs of receding.

These were at Sungai Muda, Sungai Kedah, Sungai Melaka, Sungai Kelantan, Sungai Klang, Sungai Bernam and Sungai Similajau.

“The armed forces and MetMalaysia will work together to execute the exercise.

“This will be done soon so that the people whose water sources come from these dams will not have to experience water cuts,” he said.

The Malaysian Water and Energy Research Association had said that with the El Nino weather phenomenon to begin soon, the government should act now to avoid a water crisis, including checking on dam water levels and raw water availability.

Ahmad Zahid said the National Water Service Commission (SPAN) had been tasked with working with water operators and local authorities on the best way to distribute water for domestic use should there be a shortage.

He also said Malaysia would work with authorities from a neighbouring country to address the issue of cross-border haze.

“This is to allow us to take early scientific measures to tackle the issue,” he said.

To address open burning, he said more than 100 tube wells had been installed mainly in peat soil areas to put out fires quickly as there were water sources available nearby.

Ahmad Zahid advised the people to be wary of weather conditions to prevent health issues and be mindful of their water usage.

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