PETALING JAYA: Human rights watchdog Suaram has described Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s statement that Malaysia will allow Australian rare earths producer Lynas Corp to keep operating as Pakatan Harapan’s “biggest betrayal yet” since it came into power.
Suaram adviser Kua Kia Soong said PH had reneged on its election manifesto promise to take Malaysia on the path of sustainable development, peoples’ health and safety in a clean environment.
The prime minister said in Tokyo yesterday the government would allow Lynas to keep operating its rare earths processing plant in Gebeng, Pahang.
“We think we’ll have to renew the licence,” he said at a news conference, adding that Malaysia did not want to lose such a large investment.
In a statement today, Kua asked whether this was a unilateral decision by Mahathir or a Cabinet decision.
“From the utterances of Cabinet ministers since May 8, 2018, it looks like we are back to the Mahathirist autocracy of yesteryears,” he said.
He said Mahathir must first present his facts to allay the fears of the people since the government had halted the process for renewing Lynas’ licence because of waste disposal concerns.
“Simply saying Malaysia did not want to lose such a large investment is not good enough.
“His cavalier attitude to the radioactive pollution of the Lynas waste is cold comfort to Kuantan folk who do not want any risk of radioactive exposure,” he said.
Kua reminded Mahathir that Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin had said last December that Lynas must remove its waste stockpiles before the licence could be renewed.
“Lynas has maintained that it would not be possible for it to remove the waste within such a short time frame. So, what has changed in the process? The environment minister must explain this volte face to the people,” he said.
He said Malaysians, especially voters in Kuantan, supported PH because they wanted a safe and clean environment and “not the hazardous pollution of thorium, uranium, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead and other toxic waste from Lynas’ refinery plant”.
“They voted for Fuziah Salleh, the eco warrior Wong Tack and other PH candidates because they had taken a firm stand against the Lynas plant. We expect them to lead the protest against the PM’s latest statement without delay.
“The rights of communities cannot be ignored in the race for profits and the PM cannot be allowed to railroad the democratic process to allow environmental degradation and victimisation of our communities,” Kua said.