KUALA LUMPUR: Dr Mahathir Mohamad says Lynas Corporation cannot be asked to leave the country “like a pariah” as this would jeopardise future investments in Malaysia.
“If we treat Lynas like a pariah and ask them to leave this country, we won’t be able to get other people to come and invest,” he told reporters when asked about claims by critics of the rare earths miner that the company’s licence was renewed due to his close ties with the Japanese government.
Speaking after the launch of a tourism conference here today, the prime minister added that Malaysia had invited Lynas to come and invest in the country.
Lynas had been embroiled in controversy for several years, with environmentalists and Pakatan Harapan politicians protesting against its plant in Kuantan, Pahang, on health grounds and calling for its closure.
On Aug 15, Putrajaya agreed to renew its licence to operate in the country for another six months subject to several conditions.
These include building a cracking and leaching facility outside Malaysia within four years of the renewal and identifying a permanent disposal facility with written approval from the relevant authorities.
Mahathir today said the anti-Lynas group was concerned about the rare earths waste produced, despite the opinion of experts that such waste was not dangerous.
“The people who are against Lynas, they still want to get rid of Lynas.
“(But) it is a big investment of RM1.7 billion and created 700 high quality jobs.”
When asked again if Lynas’ licence had been renewed because of his ties with Japan, Mahathir said, “Nothing to do with Japan.”