Bodies of water are death traps for children, says Lee Lam Thye

VEENA BABULAL and ESTHER LANDAU

KUALA LUMPUR: Water safety is still not regarded a serious matter despite some 700 deaths by drowning every year, said Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye.

Lee, a member of the National Water Activity Safety Council, said education on water safety for children must be intensified.

“The drowning at Bukit Beruntung is tragic and I am deeply saddened. The school holidays has just started,” he said.

He pointed out that drowning incidents frequently occurred during school breaks.

“Bodies of water are death traps for children whose awareness on safety is often low.”

Lee said it was especially important for schools to educate children on water safety.

“This must be intensified in schools. Children must be reminded to be vigilant.”

Lee also said parents needed to play their role.

“Sometimes they are unaware that their children are playing near rivers or ponds.

“They must also do their part in monitoring their children’s whereabouts and activities.”

Lee said the local authorities must be pro-active.

“They can get private companies to sponsor safety equipment such as unused tyres that can be used as emergency tools to save people from drowning,” he added.

Lee further said that the council’s master plan was currently being finalised by the Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Ministry. The action plan would then be brought to the council for discussion and adoption.

He hoped the plan would be implemented soon. The focus of the plan is to mobilise stakeholders, increase awareness on rescue efforts and reduce incidents of drowning at home, the workplace, on water transport and recreation as well as areas with potential risk.

Meanwhile Parent Action Group Education (PAGE) chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said further investigations should be carried out by the authorities to determine what happened at Bukit Beruntung.

“This incident could happen to anyone. We should never underestimate the strength of water currents.

“Parents therefore, should guide and keep an eye out on their children.”