Friday, December 22, 2006

Malaysia SOS?

(Pix source: New Straits Times)

The floods in southern and eastern Malaysia have turned out to be worse than expected. There were reports of massive evacuation of more than 60,000 people, stoppage of train service from Singapore to southern Malaysia, and even looting in Johor.

Although the calamity is not on the same scale as the tsunami that ravaged Indonesia and Thailand during Christmas two years ago, Malaysia could still use a helping hand from some of its Asean neighbours now.

Malaysia had helped its neighbours and other countries in times of crisis. Malaysia had sent money, food, relief and even troops to tsunami-hit or war-stricken countries. Singapore had also done the same to help others in the past.

But how come Malaysia's immediate neighbours -- Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia -- have not come to the aid of Malaysia during this disaster? When do neighbours decide to help without being accused of interfering? What is the diplomatic protocol? Wait for the number of casualties to rise?

There are no hard and fast rules. One thing is clear: Malaysia, or any stricken country, is unlikely to reject any humanitarian assistance that comes without any strings attached.

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