News: Asean teamwork to face disasters

NST, 21 October 2012

KUALA LUMPUR: ASEAN nations must build a regional network to share their knowledge and expertise in  handling  natural disasters, said   Asean secretary-general Dr Surin Pitsuwan.

He said the success of humanitarian aid depended on the sharing of knowledge, new ideas and innovative mechanisms.

He said Mercy Malaysia should take the lead in building such a network so that member countries would be prepared in the event of natural disasters.

Pitsuwan was speaking at the Mercy Malaysia Raja Nazrin Humanitarian Lecture Series here yesterday. Raja Muda of Perak Raja Dr Nazrin Shah, was present during the lecture.

The lecture series features renowned speakers in the humanitarian arena to boost humanitarian aid and humanitarianism in the region.

Pitsuwan urged Mercy Malaysia to organise annual conferences that involved regional partnership to create a civil society that could work together.

“Civil society should take the lead and create an umbrella organisation to respond to crises when the government is still trying to decide within the bureaucracy.”

He added that the humanitarian relief community should work towards preparedness before disaster struck as the cost would be lower and the ability to face threats and challenges would be much higher.

“The people themselves will be resilient while buildings will be able to withstand such natural disasters.

“Disaster preparedness is more important than preparing for escape or relief.”

He cited the example of a cyclone that hit Bangladesh last year where fewer lives were lost compared with when cyclone Nargis that hit Myanmar in 2008.

“The cyclone was mightier, but Bangladesh has learned through their disaster preparedness programme. This is an important lesson as we have demonstrated to the world that Asean is ever ready.”

On the Bangsamoro peace accord, Pitsuwan said Malaysia had played an effective and wise role in mediating for peace.

“It has taken a lot of time, but all sides have been very patient and in the end, wisdom prevailed. The only way to settle differences is through negotiations and Malaysia has made a great contribution.

“I hope this will be a momentum going forward where we can help forge reconciliation in other places, including Rakhine in Myanmar and southern Thailand.”

Read more: Asean teamwork to face disasters – General – New Straits Times