Sunday, 21 July 2013

Don’t speculate on outbreak of fires — Mawan

KUCHING: The public has been advised against making negative speculation on the spate of fires in Sibu in the past month and to let the authorities complete their investigations.

Social Development Minister Tan Sri William Mawan, although agreeing that nothing should be ruled out for now, reminded the people not to jump to conclusions while police and the fire department conducted thorough investigations.

“In light of this frequent occurrence (of fire) of late, I’m sure the relevant authorities will not let all this go unnoticed. Prior to that, we could not just preempt things. We could not simply rule things in, nor out.

“Of course, there might be mischievous people somewhere, causing all these but the incidents could also be due to natural causes following a technical fault or sheer carelessness. We do not know, let the authorities investigate,” the senior state cabinet minister told reporters when met after officiating at a mock cheque presentation ceremony at Sarawak Golf Club here yesterday.

Dayak Golf Association of Sarawak (DGA) and Sarawak Chinese Golf Assocation (SCGA) presented a mock RM20,000 cheque to Mawan’s ministry to oversee the disaster relief and charitable needs of the fire victims of Kampung Datu. The associations, which was holding a charitable golf drive simultaneously in Kuching, Sibu and Miri, also donated RM10,000 to the fire victims of Rh Kupon at Sungai Itop, Saratok.

Considering the dry season, Mawan advised people to always take precautionary measures at home, work and business premises to prevent fire.

He also called on the building structure and safety measures of shop lots and houses to be looked into. Mawan suggested for stronger involvement of the relevant authorities in providing input on the planning of buildings.

“There are many factors we have to look into apart from ‘carelessness’. We have to take into account the building, home amenities and facilities, which can contribute to fire. This is the time for all concerned to sit down, discuss, make recommendations and advise on how we make the environment, houses, factories and building safer and sustainable to fire hazards,” he said.

The June 19 fire incident that hit Kpg Datu and Kpg Hilir, the worst fire in the state this year, razed at least 100 wooden houses, rendering over 600 people homeless. Three weeks later, 19 people were made homeless after another major fire gutted six wooden houses at Lane 13 of Tiong Hua road on July 15.

The fire at 1am occurred only 14 hours after another major fire gutted five shop houses in Blacksmith Road which destroyed two medical laboratories, bookshop, private medical clinic, restaurant and branch offices of Chinese daily newspapers The International Times and Berita Petang (evening news) among other establishments.

Last Thursday (July 18), a fire razed the second floor of a double-storey shop lot at Channel Road, the fourth fire incident in Sibu within the space of just four weeks.-theborneopost

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