KUANTAN: Bentong MP Wong Tack has hit back at Australian High Commissioner to Malaysia Andrew Goledzinowski for saying that the closure of the Lynas rare earth refinery will be a tragedy.
Wong said it would be a tragedy only to the people of Malaysia, particularly the community of Kuantan if people turned a blind eye to pollution issues just to allow corporate gains.
“The statement by the High Commissioner that the closure of Lynas will result in a pullout of Australian investments in Malaysia is an insult to the intelligence and dignity of the Malaysian people.
“I wish to stress that foreign direct investment has no relation to the pollution issue of Lynas. They are two different matters. Lumping them together is illogical, unfair and unreasonable,” he said in a statement on Thursday.
Wong was responding to Goledzinowski’s recent statement that there would not be any benefit in shutting down the Lynas plant in Gebeng here.
The High Commissioner also said that Lynas was a pioneer business in Malaysia and would serve to attract more investors if it was successful.
Wong said in 2013, 1.2 million Malaysians signed a petition calling for the closure of Lynas due to serious concerns of non-compliance to laws, regulations, international standards and good practices, non-transparency and highly questionable approval process.
In listing down some of the concerns, Wong said Lynas did not comply with the directive of the Malaysian Cabinet issued in year 2012 to remove all their wastes, including products made from the wastes, out of Malaysia.
“The people were not consulted prior to the approval of the plant. No public consultations were carried out except for two sessions by the Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) out of an initial series planned which were hastily cancelled after facing angry opposition to the Lynas project and inability to convince the people to accept it,” he said.
Wong added that Lynas and AELB did not provide or make public the detailed plan for the Permanent Waste Disposal Facility (PDF) including its intended location.
“Lynas only did a preliminary environmental impact assessment (EIA) when in Australia, Lynas would be required to do a full EIA, social impact assessment and a pilot plant.
“Lynas has been granted a 12-year tax holiday which doesn’t make any sense. It has long been a known fact that rare earth processing industries generate massive amounts of radioactive wastes that are costly to manage. The wastes left behind by Lynas will impose serious environmental, social and health costs burden on the local community and the Malaysian government.
“To this day, Lynas has not fully paid up the USD50mil security deposit required which should have been paid before the start of its operations,” he said.
Wong said he was confident that the new Government was committed to fulfilling its promises and the aspirations of the people in relation to this issue.
“I know the process of setting up the executive committee to investigate Lynas by the Minister of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change is already in the final stage and should materialise within days.
“Lastly, I wish to reiterate that Malaysia may be a developing country but we will never resort to destroying our nation by being a dumping ground for foreign radioactive contaminated wastes nor subject our future generations to unnecessary health risks for whatever profits or gains,” he said.
Wong had been at the forefront of the anti-Lynas campaign as the leader of the Himpunan Hijau group.
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