KUALA LUMPUR: The rare earth producer Lynas Corp cannot be treated as an outcast as it is a necessary investment for the country, says Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
The Prime Minister said Lynas was invited to Malaysia as it brought in investments and created many job opportunities.
He added that the government had also sent scientists to examine the operations of the plant in Gebeng, Pahang and found that there was no danger.
"But the people who are against Lynas still want to get rid of Lynas. It is a big investment of RM1.7bil.
"It creates 700 high-quality, paying jobs. It is necessary for our investment.
"And if you treat Lynas like a 'pariah' and ask them to leave this country, we will not get other people to come into this country to invest," he told reporters on the sidelines after officiating at the World Tourism Conference on Monday (Aug 26).
Dr Mahathir also denied speculation by an anti-Lynas group that claimed the Cabinet's decision to renew Lynas's operating licence for another six months was due to his close relationship with the Japanese government.
"It has nothing to do with Japan," said the premier.
On Aug 18, anti-Lynas protestors had showed up at Taman Gelora in Kuantan to protest the Cabinet's decision to renew the rare earth producer's operating licence.
It was reported that in June, Lynas signed a 10-year loan extension on easier terms with its long-term Japanese backer which would increase its commitment to supply rare earth elements to Japanese consumers.
The extension to 2030 to repay US$147mil (RM620mil) will help Lynas follow through on its 2025 expansion plans.
Meanwhile, Malaysia is studying another offer of Samurai bonds from Japan.
"Yes Japan is making a very cheap loan available, now it will be even lower so we are studying how we can use this cheap money (loan) to overcome our financial problems," Dr Mahathir added.
It was reported in March that Malaysia is willing to consider issuing another Samurai bond if it can obtain rates similar to the 0.63% per annum achieved in the earlier issuance of the 200bil yen (RM8bil).