Jakarta, Oct. 10, 2009 (ANTARA) - You can love and fight your immediate neighbors but if you get into some trouble at home and shout for help, it is surely they who will be the first to hear and come to rescue you.
That's what happened in December 2004 when Aceh and Nias Island, both in the northern part of Sumatra Island, were engulfed by a gigantic tsunami, and more recently, on September 30, 2009, when a magnitude-7.6 eartquake devastated West Sumatra.
More than 805 people were killed and hundreds of others went missing under the rubble of collapsed buildings and the mud of landslides. It was Yayasan Salam Malaysia (Salam) which was among the first non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that provided aid to quake victims in Malalak village, Padang Pariaman District, West Sumatra.
The head of its volunteer unit, Syed Abdul Hadi Syed Hussein, said they sent plastic sheets and rice to about 150 families in the area, and would send more tents, blankets and food.
"The main road to Malalak was destroyed by the earthquake and we had to use an alternative route for four hours from Padang city and walk another three hours to reach the village," he told Malaysian news agency Bernama in Padang, last Thursday (Oct. 8).
In addition to Malaysia, a number of countries such as Singapore, Australia, Saudi Arabia, the UK, the US, Germany, South Korea, China, Japan, Russia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Denmark, Switzerland, Thailand, Taiwan, and Norway, have given their helping hands in the aftermath of the West Sumatra disaster.
More than 50 international organizations have also sent assistance for the quake victims. They include the International Organization for Migration (IOM), Indonesia-based Hope, Church World Service (CWS), World Vision, UN bodies such as UNICEF, UNFPA, UNOCHO, the Geneva-based International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), and the International Rescue Community (IRC).
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said in Kuala Lumpur, on Oct. 3 that Malaysia was channeling three types of assistance to earthquake-hit West Sumatra, namely search and rescue, medical relief and humanitarian aid.
"I've spoken to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono through the telephone late Friday night and conveyed the government and the Malaysian people's condolences on the tragedy in Padang," he said as quoted by Bernama. Najib said that the Malaysian government and people were ready to assist the victims and SBY (President Susilo) told him Indonesia welcomed the assistance from Malaysia and its people.
A Malaysian Search and Rescue Team (Smart) with 39 members had left for Padang to assist in the search and rescue efforts for victims who were trapped in rubble.
The foreign ministry of Malaysia activated a disaster fund to help victims of the earthquake in Padang, West Sumatra (Indonesia), typhoon Ondoy in the Philippines and typhoon Ketsana in Vietnam.
The Malaysian Medical Relief Society (Mercy Malaysia) sent a surgical and a medical team to treat earthquake victims in and around Pariaman, about 60km north of Padang, the capital city of West Sumatra.
Mercy Malaysia president, Dr Ahmad Faizal Perdaus, said the decision to send the teams comprising an orthopedic surgeon, a general surgeon, an anesthetist, general practitioners and nurses was made after an initial assessment by Mercy Malaysia's advance team.
The advance team found that Pariaman, with a population of 600,000, was the second-worst hit area and was in need of medical and relief assistance, he said. The team has brought along surgical sets and primary healthcare kits worth RM100,000 (US$29,040).
He also said that Mercy Malaysia would need at least RM3 million (US$871,199) to provide humanitarian assistance to the earthquake victims in Indonesia and urged Malaysians to donate generously.
The Malaysian Armed Forces (MAF) has sent a 70-member medical team including 53 medical personnel to Padang to treat and perform surgery on injured survivors. Besides the Malaysian central government, its local administrations have also provided assistance.
The Melaka government, for instance, has collected RM163,000 (US$46,369) from corporations and individuals in the state. Melaka Chief Minister Mohd Ali Rustam said the state aimed to collect RM500,000 for the fund but no specific deadline had been set.
"In the initial stages, RM50,000 will be donated to the earthquake victims in the form of tents worth RM30,000 and food stocks worth RM20,000 through our representatives who will be going there Monday," he told reporters at Seri negeri, Ayer Keroh recently.
In the Malaysian state of Perak, the Sultan Azlan Shah Foundation has started the ball rolling for a special fund to help victims of Typhoon Ketsana in the Philippines, earthquake-triggered tsunami in Samoa and the earthquake that hit West Sumatra recently, with a RM100,000 (US$29,420) contribution.
The Crown Prince of northern state of Perak Raja Dr Nazrin Shah Thursday called on the mosque committees throughout the state to put up donation boxes at the mosques on Oct 16 for the Friday prayer congregations to contribute to the fund.
The media such as the New Straits Times Press Berhad (NSTP) and Media Prima Bhd, have collected funds amounting to 860,000 ringgits or about Rp2.4 billion for disaster victims including those in West Sumatra. Puncak Niaga Holdings Bhd and the Water Association of Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya (SWAn) planned to send 10,000 bottles of drinking water to earthquake victims in Padang, West Sumatra.
West Sumatra and Malaysia are in fact quite close in terms of geography and cultural heritage. Both peoples are descended from the original ethnic Malay people and speak a similar variant of the Malay language.
They also share similar traditional dances and food. Malaysia's Air Asia serves Kuala Lumpur-Padang direct flight regularly. And about 380 Malaysian students study in Padang, especially medicine at Andalas University and Islam at Imam Bonjol University.
Suresh Rao Sandubaboo, 23, who studied medicine at Andalas University with a scholarship from the Malaysian Public Service Department, said as quoted by Bernama that it was necessary for him to return and be ready to forget the trauma of the disaster. ***3*** (F001/A/HAJM/B003)