ALOR SETAR: Pakatan Harapan secretary-general Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail has claimed that a new case of theft of rare earth elements (REE) at an area owned by Kedah Menteri Besar Incorporated (MBI) has occurred recently.
Saifuddin, who is also Home Minister, said the newest theft occurred in Bendang Man, Sik, around 10 to 15km from Bukit Enggang Forest Reserve, Sik, the area of the previous REE theft.
The police have taken action by making arrests and seizing five sacks filled with REE that were being brought out of the area allegedly for sampling purposes.
"It’s understood that arrests were made but I’m not sure of the number arrested, that needs to be referred to the police. They said that the REE was exploration samples.... if it’s for samples, why were five sacks taken out?
"I can confirm, however, that there is a letter dated May 3, 2023 providing approval to enter MBI-owned land in Kampung Bendang Man,” he said in a media conference at the PKR office in Alor Setar on Thursday (Aug 10).
Saifuddin also pointed out that Kedah Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor, in his capacity as MBI chairman, has to explain how Kedah MBI chief executive officer Muhammad Sobri Osman could issue the approval letter for Jangka Bakat Minerals Sdn Bhd to enter and conduct exploration in the area.
"What’s the purpose of allowing them to enter the MBI area? If Mahir Binari Sdn Bhd was previously given approval to enter to carry out land clearing, now Jangka Bakat is allowed to enter for sample taking.
"Whether it's for a forest plantation or sample taking, this matter cannot be left alone as it provides the opportunity for theft in the area,” he said.
Saifuddin also urged the people of Kedah would give the Unity Government the mandate during the state election to ensure such thefts are stopped.
"If we win, we will stop REE thefts and cancel all approval letters. We will use all our jurisdiction to ensure that investigations continue and to cooperate with the police and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC),” he added.
Saifuddin had carried out a series of exposes relating to REE theft in Bukit Enggang, Sik, claiming that the thefts were conducted with the knowledge of Muhammad Sanusi.- Bernama