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A man cycles through floodwaters in Batu Berendam in Malaysia’s southern coastal state of Malacca on January 3. Photo: AFP

Malaysia braces for damaging floods in test to Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s approval as polls loom

  • Floods in Malaysia have become an annual phenomenon, and in Kuala Lumpur, the government is rolling out a mitigation project worth US$66 million
  • Any missteps in handling of floods could affect PM Ismail’s popularity, amid pressure to hold an election before the September 2023 deadline
Malaysia expressed its commitment to prepare for seasonal floods in the coming months, in what is set to be a test for Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob ahead of an election that is widely expected to be held before the September 2023 deadline.

In Kuala Lumpur alone, the government is rolling out a flood mitigation project worth 300 million ringgit (US$66 million) that is 60 per cent completed, Environment Minister Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man said in a Facebook post on Wednesday. “I hope this project is effective in managing the terrible floods in KL and bring ease to the people.”


Malaysia suffers worst floods in decades after torrential rains

Malaysia suffers worst floods in decades after torrential rains
At stake is Ismail’s popularity, amid pressure from factions in his party to hold an election sooner rather than later. Any missteps in his handling of the floods may lead to a repeat of the social media backlash against him in December, when the annual floods left dozens dead and displaced more than 61,000 people.
This time, the prime minister vowed they would prepare for the worst. More than 6,000 temporary shelters will be set up nationwide, enough to house more than a million victims, he wrote on Facebook on Monday after chairing a meeting with the natural disaster management committee.

Floods in Malaysia have become an annual phenomenon, triggered by the north-east monsoon that brings heavy rain from November to March. A recurrence of the floods that inundated parts of the nation late last year would add to the extreme weather that has swept the world in recent months, with record floods occurring alongside widespread heatwaves and drought.

Floods in Alor Gajah town following the heavy rainfall. Photo: dpa

Malaysia’s meteorological department forecast that most states on the peninsula may receive up to 900 millimetres of rainfall in November. Last year’s floods caused an estimated 6.1 billion ringgit (US$1.35 billion) in losses, the Department of Statistics said in January. Selangor, the richest and most industrialised state, was the worst hit and accounted for half the losses.