PETALING JAYA: Pakatan Harapan has changed its stand over rare earth mining and is now planning to open more rare earth plants, says Datuk Leong Kim Soon.
The MCA Publicity Bureau deputy chairman said before the 14th General Election, Pakatan proposed to disallow any rare earth refinery from being constructed in Malaysia while it was still an opposition coalition.
However, now that it is power, the coalition plans to open rare earth plants all over the country.
He said that the Pakatan government has also failed to shut down the Lynas Advanced Material Plant (LAMP) - a promise the coalition made before the 14th General Election.
“Prior to GE14, the position of the Pakatan coalition was to disallow any rare earth refinery from even appearing.
“They even promised to shut down the Lynas plant should they win office.
“But now in power - not only has Pakatan failed to shut the Lynas factory - it has also opened Malaysia’s doors with the intention of increasing the number of rare earth plants to 10 as a survey showed potential deposits found in Tanah Merah and Jeli in Kelantan; Baling and Kulim in Kedah; Kati, Trong and Grik in Perak; Muar in Johor; and Simunjan and Sematan in Sarawak,” said Leong in a statement on Friday (July 19).
He said this in response to Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister Dr Xavier Jayakumar's recent announcement that the government is looking to develop the rare earth mining industry following the discovery of such minerals in several states in Malaysia.
Leong questioned whether the country has the capacity to sustain the rare earth plants should the plants be built.
“While rare earth refineries certainly may bring in investments, does Malaysia have the capacity sufficient enough to ensure the safety of the 10 rare earth plants, and to protect the health of (nearby) residents and its workers?
“Does Malaysia have the ability to handle the waste materials from the 10 rare earth factories after mining and processing are completed?” he asked.
He called for DAP member and Bentong MP Wong Tack - who was always vehemently opposed to the Lynas plant - to speak out against the government's plan for the rare earth mining.
“Will Wong Tack, who was strongly opposed against the Lynas plant, come up with the same anti-rare earth and spirit of the past and continue to resist until the end?" he said.
He added that the opening of rare earth plants in the country could be detrimental to the health of Malaysians.
“In the past, Pakatan could not even tolerate one Lynas rare earth plant, claiming that it would poison Kuantan residents.
“As Pakatan intends to open at least 10 rare earth mining sites across the nation, does that not equate to poisoning our own citizens?” he asked.