IN yet another Pakatan Harapan about-turn on its pre-GE14 (14th General Election) promises against the Lynas Advanced Material Rare Earth Plant (LAMP) processing rare earth materials in Gebeng, the Prime Minister’s announcement on Aug 1 has confirmed the worst fears of all Malaysians who had given Pakatan the mandate to rid Malaysia of any traces of Lynas.
Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said that Malaysia will remove our licence renewal pre-condition that Lynas must ship out its rare earth wastes.
In other words, Lynas’ waste is allowed to stay, radioactive or not.
Opposing Lynas’ operations was Wong Tack’s launchpad into politics and this allowed him to wrest the Bentong parliamentary seat from its three-term incumbent, Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai. It also allowed Fuziah Salleh to retain the Kuantan parliamentary constituency.
As a matter of principle, Wong, Fuziah et al should relinquish their federal seats and allow a by-election to determine how much public confidence has eroded in DAP, PKR and Pakatan on the whole for all their misleading shouts.
Let us refresh the memory of Pakatan leaders who “sudah lupa” (have forgotten) and “mudah lupa” (have easily forgotten) their GE12 and GE13 promises and the subsequent back-pedalling.
Feb 22, 2012: A joint statement by Barisan Nasional’s International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed; Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Dr Maximus Johnity Ongkili; Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Douglas Uggah Embas; and Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai, among among others, set a condition that “Lynas shall submit a letter of undertaking that it will accept a return of any residue generated by its factory in Gebeng to its original source.”
Feb 26, 2012: Then Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim: Kalau Kita Di Putrajaya, Kita Akan Batalkan Lynas (If we held Poutrajaya, we will cancel Lynas).
March 22, 2012: Lim Guan Eng’s letter as Penang Chief Minister to Lynas Corp chief executive officer Nick Curtis: “Lynas should declare that they would not proceed with the facility if they are unable to satisfy the technical concerns and doubts of the affected residents.” (PDF)
Nov 26, 2012: Anti-Lynas group Himpunan Hijau rallies in KL after a 300km march from Kuantan.
Feb 4, 2013: Environmental group Himpunan Hijau president Wong Tack threatens to burn down the Lynas rare earths refinery in Gebeng, should the plant still be running after the 13th general election (GE13).
March 8, 2018: Pakatan launches Manifesto Harapan, giving 39 promises that “Strict rules will be enforced to ensure that foreign companies in Malaysia do not contribute to pollution.”
April 2, 2019: Entrepreneur Development Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Redzuan Yusof says that Lynas’ investment in Malaysia was “too big to ignore”, and claimed the Cabinet will not force the firm to send its waste back to Australia unless it was “very unsafe”.
May 20, 2019: PKR Kuantan MP and Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Fuziah Salleh says, “It is mandatory that Lynas solve the problems of waste in Gebeng if they are to move. It is their responsibility. Leaving Malaysia does not mean they do not have to settle the problem of the large amount of waste here.”
May 30, 2019: Water, Land, Natural Resources Minister Dr Xavier Jayakumar shows confidence in the Lynas refinery by vouching that latest tests that were done around the Lynas area gave negative readings of heavy metals and his ministry did not find anything that is polluting in that area.
April 5, 2019: Dr Mahathir announces that Lynas can continue its operations here with conditions after the company gave the “promise that in future, before sending raw materials to Malaysia, they will clean it up first and decontaminate it with regards to radioactivity. This is so that when the raw material comes here, the volume is less and the waste is not dangerous to anybody.”
April 5, 2019: Dr Mahathir also sympathises with Lynas, saying that the company will face problems finding a destination that would accept the radioactive water leached purification (WLP) solid wastes residue.
May 30, 2019: Dr Mahathir reaffirms that Malaysia will allow Lynas to keep operating a processing plant in the country. “We think we’ll have to renew the licence.”
May 31, 2019: Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin attempts to clarify Dr Mahathir’s remarks, stressing that Lynas will still have to resolve the issue of radioactive waste produced at its plant before it is allowed to continue operations. “Dr Mahathir’s his position is, Lynas has to ship out its waste.”
May 31, 2019: Fuziah says that the main condition for renewing the Lynas licence is that its waste must be shipped back to Australia, adding that Yeo “has placed the condition of returning the radioactive waste back to its country of origin as the precursor to renewing its operation licence in Lynas in Gebeng.”
June 19, 2019: Yeo postpones her trip to Australia to meet Bill Johnston, Western Australia state’s Minister for Mines, to discuss the removal of the radioactive waste from Malaysia after Johnston said Western Australia will not accept the waste.
Aug 1, 2019: Dr Mahathir announces that Malaysia is dropping our pre-condition that Lynas must repatriate its rare earth processing wastes, and instead directs the Australian firm to construct a permanent disposal facility (PDF) to treat the water leach purification (WLP) residue that is created from rare-earth processing at its facility.
Datuk Seri Ti Lian Ker
MCA vice president