Press statement by Kua Kia Soong, SUARAM Adviser 31 May 2019

The Prime Minister’s statement that Malaysia will allow Australian rare earths producer Lynas Corp to keep operating a processing plant in the country is Pakatan’s biggest betrayal yet since they came into power. They have reneged on their election manifesto promise to take Malaysia on the path of sustainable development, peoples’ health and safety in a clean environment.

Is this a unilateral decision by the PM or is it a Cabinet decision? From the utterances of Cabinet Ministers since 8 May 2018, it looks like we are back to the Mahathirist autocracy of yesteryears.

The PM must first present his facts to allay the fears of the people since the government had halted the process for renewing its licence because of waste disposal concerns. Simply saying Malaysia did not want to lose such a large investment is not good enough. His cavalier attitude to the radioactive pollution of the Lynas waste is cold comfort to Kuantan folk who do not want any risk of radioactive exposure:

“When we invited Lynas to invest in Malaysia we didn’t expect that the waste would be a problem for us. A huge amount of waste is the result of processing… and there is some radioactivity…We need to do something with the radioactive material, perhaps spread it so we don’t have radioactive material concentrated in one place.”

Let us remind the PM that last December, Malaysia’s environment minister had said that Lynas must remove its waste stockpiles before the licence could be renewed. Lynas has maintained that it would not be possible for it to remove the waste within such a short timeframe. So, what has changed in the process? The Environment Minister must explain this volte face to the people.

People Before Profits

Malaysians, especially voters in Kuantan voted for PH because we wanted a safe and clean environment and not the hazardous pollution of thorium, uranium, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead and other radioactive waste from Lynas’ refinery plant. They voted for Fuziah Salleh, the environmental warrior Wong Tack and other PH candidates because they had taken a firm stand against the Lynas plant. We expect them to lead the protest against the PM’s latest statement without delay.

The rights of communities cannot be ignored in the race for profits and the PM cannot be allowed to railroad the democratic process to allow environmental degradation and victimisation of our communities.

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