PKR to scrap Lynas LAMP and Rapid when it gets to Putrajaya

Leven Woon
Free Malaysia Today | September 30, 2012

PKR to scrap Rapid when it gets to Putrajaya

PKR vice president Chua Jui Meng says a Pakatan federal government would not allow the petro-chemical project to continue.


KOTA TINGGI: PKR will scrap the proposed RM60 billion Petronas Refinery and Petrochemical Integrated Project (Rapid) in Pengerang should they come to power after the next general election, said its Johor state chairman Chua Jui Meng today.

Addressing some 3,000-strong crowd during the Himpunan Hijau Lestari in Pengerang today, Chua said a Pakatan federal government would not allow the petro-chemical project to continue.

“Anwar (Ibrahim) has asked me to convey this message to everyone here today, that we will reject the project and rebuild the livelihood of the locals ,” he told the cheering protesters.

Speaking to FMT later, Chua said the decision was made in PKR’s political bureau meeting chaired by de facto leader Anwar recently.

He said Rapid will be scrapped alongside with the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant in Gebeng, Pahang.

“I want to warn companies who wish to invest in the Rapid project, even if (Prime Minister) Najib (Tun Razak) gives them license, we will revoke it once we come into power,” he said.

He added that Pakatan was willing to incur extra costs to compensate investors’ losses.

Raising in Parliament

Johor DAP chairman Boo Cheng Hau told the crowd that Johor should develop its fishing industry as it has some 400km of coast lines.

“We should develop something that can benefit a lot of local people, not just one or two persons such as the case of this project,” he said in his addressing speech.

Meanwhile, PAS vice president Salahuddin Ayub said his party will raise this issue in Parliament next week.

“We from PAS, PKR and DAP will make your struggles the centre topic of our speech,” he said.

The Johor government is planning to acquire some 8,094ha of land in Pengerang for the development of the Pengerang Integrated Petroleum Complex (PIPC).

About 2,550ha will be developed by Petronas Rapid, while 544ha will be for the Pengerang Independent Deepwater Petroleum Terminal.

Phase 1 of the relocation exercise will begin in March next year with three villages, namely Kampung Sungai Kapal, Kampung Teluk Empang and Kampung Langkah Baik.

By October next year, four villages will follow suit, namely Kampung Sebong, Kampung Batu Mas, Kampung Jawa and Kampung Sungai Buntu.

Pengerang rally declared ‘roaring success’

Lee Way Loon & Koh Jun Lin
7:44PM Sep 30, 2012

Braving the searing heat and undeterred by several rounds of harassment, thousands have descended on the small coastal town of Pengerang today to protest against the Petronas Refinery and Petrochemical Integrated Development (Rapid) project.

Organisers estimated the turnout today at 8,000, while both the media and the police were more conservative with an estimates of 3,000.

pengerang himpunan hijau 300912 pkrWhat was beyond doubt however was that this rally was a roaring success compared to past ones against the plant, that had usually only drawn hundreds.

The venue of the action is relatively isolated, being located on the southeastern end of the peninsula and connected to the outside world by only two or three main roads.

It is a five-hour drive from Kuala Lumpur and one hour from Johor Baru, via the Senai-Desaru Expressway that was completed in June last year.

pengerang himpunan hijau 300912 start marching 06Some of the protesters came by the busloads from far-flung places such as Perlis on the opposite end of the peninsula to show solidarity with movement.

Protesters from Raub, Pahang, also came in honour of representatives from Pengerang who made the trek up for the Himpunan Hijau Raub rally on Sept 3 against the use of cyanide in gold mining.

“Our original target was 10,000 people. Though only 8,000 people turned up, I think it is a very successful rally,” said Himpunan Hijau Lestari Pengerang chairperson Anis Afida Mohd Azli.

‘Malays scared to protest’

Despite the optimistic turnout, challenges remain in mobilising grassroots support against the project.

pengerang himpunan hijau 300912 crowd at dataran 1010am“The areas affected by the Rapid project include ten ethnic Malay villages and about four ethnic Chinese villages. That is about 24,000 people in total – 20,000 Malaysian Malays and 4,000 Malaysian Chinese.

“Amongst the locals who attended the rally, about 70 percent are Chinese,” said Anak chairperson Mazlan Aliman when contacted.

He said the Malays are intimidated by Umno leaders and village chiefs, but said they should be bolder in defending their rights because they have a larger stake in this issue.

pengerang himpunan hijau 300912 anak president mazlan aliman 02Mazlan (right), who is also a PAS central committee member, pointed out that Pengerang is an Umno fortress like much of the rest of Johor, with ten Felda settlements in the constituency to serve as vote banks.

On the eve of the rally, Pengerang MP Azalina Othman was at the rally venue distributing party flags to some 50 bikers, who then paraded through town with their engines revved in a show of force.

pengerang himpunan hijau 300912 supporter 03Even as today’s rally ended, Umno and BN flags left at Dataran Sungai Rengit still fly.

Of Pengerang’s over 35,000 voters, 88 percent are Malay while about 10 percent are Chinese. During the last general election, Azalina won uncontested when her PKR opponent withdrew at the last minute.

Azalina has defended the Rapid project heatedly in the face of rising resistance, condescendingly rebutting on several occasions that the project is safe and urging local residents to reject what she claimed was incitement from the outside, even blaming foreigners for joining the rally.

Fighting Rapid through ballot box

Regardless, many outsiders did turn up at Pengerang today to show solidarity to the locals who are facing serious environmental and other challenges from the Rapid project.

azlanAlthough they may not in the long run be able to do much to help the local residents much in the battle, they did bring valuable lessons in resistance and democratic change.

At the rally, representatives from Bersih, Bukit Koman Anti-Cyanide Committee, and Himpunan Hijau Kuantan all urged Pengerang voters to value their vote and use it to reject authoritarianism and environmentally harmful projects.

Although the anti-Rapid movement seems to be picking up steam, civil society movements usually take time before its cause enters national consciousness, Kuantan’s anti-Lynas movement perhaps being an exception.

The anti-cyanide movement in Raub for example took five years before it entered the limelight and drew 10,000 protesters to the sleepy heartland town.

Pengerang rally a sign of trouble for Umno in Johor

The Malaysian Insider
By Clara Chooi
September 30, 2012

The Petronas’ Refinery and Petrochemicals Development (RAPID) project is expected to turn Pengerang into a boom town for global petroleum investors. – Picture by Siow Feng Saw


PENGERANG, Sept 30 — A sea of green and noise will break the characteristic silence of Kampung Sungai Rengit here this morning as thousands converge to this sleepy corner of Johor to rally against the development of Petronas’ RM60 billion petrochemical complex — a major event that could see Umno’s Johor bastion crumble.

The Himpunan Hijau Lestari mass rally is expected to blow the lid off months of simmering frustrations felt by Pengerang’s 28,000-odd villagers who believe the mega project would come at too great a cost to their livelihoods.

According to media reports, the state government has already invoked compulsory land acquisition under Section 8 of the Land Acquisition Act 1960 to resettle the seven villages occupying the 6,424-acre space earmarked for Petronas’ Refinery and Petrochemicals Development (RAPID) project.

The total value of the Pengerang Integrated Petroleum Complex (PIPC) in Johor, which includes Petronas’ RM60 billion RAPID, is believed to involve a whopping RM170 billion worth of investments in total, once it starts operations in 2016.

The mega project is expected to turn Pengerang into a boom town for global petroleum investors, rivalling neighbouring Singapore as Asia’s most vibrant petrochemical hub, and creating over 40,000 job opportunities for locals from construction to downstream activities.

A lone cyclist enjoys a quiet ride in the sleepy Pengerang town.- Picture by Siow Feng Saw

But the government’s plans have still run afoul the local communities living in the many fishing villages girdling the southern shore of Pengerang.

Apart from fear over reports that one of the investors in RAPID-KuoKuang Petrochemical had to abandon its plan to house a petrochemical project in Taiwan following concerns that those living in close proximity to such developments would see their lifespans reduced, a number of the affected 3,129 villagers in Pengerang are also unhappy with the government’s compensation payment.

According to previous reports, licensed fishermen have been offered RM30,000 in compensation payments for their loss of livelihoods while unlicensed fishermen are offered RM15,000. Smallholders of between one and two acres of land have been offered between RM65,000 to RM105,000.

The government has also offered villagers the option of subsidised alternative housing on a 6,000 square foot piece of land with a built-up area of between 750 and 1,600 square feet, some 15 to 20km from their villages.

But local villager Kasran Dollah said the government was out to “kill the Malays” with their offers.

“It is not like we are fighting the government. We are just asking them to help,” he told The Malaysian Insider yesterday.

“At first, us Malays agreed with the compensation… but when the rates dropped to just RM2.80 per square feet… we were dissatisfied… it’s like they are out to kill the Malays,” he said.

The retired school teacher will be among the many keynote speakers headlining this morning’s Himpunan Hijau Lestari protest at Dataran Sungai Rengit, joining a host of others from Johor-based and national NGOs, including organisers of the anti-Lynas rally in Kuantan.

According to local coalition NGO Pengerang chief Anis Afida Mohd Azli, the mass rally is expected to draw in some 10,000 people, turning it into yet another massive show of public anger that could potentially turn into major concern for the Barisan Nasional (BN) federal government ahead of the coming polls.

“We hope that the local villagers will come out. They are indeed angry with the situation, they are very angry,” she said.

Since yesterday, protestors from across 25 locations nationwide had begun streaming into Kampung Sungai Rengit, located at the southernmost tip of Johor here, turning the quiet coastal township into a hive of activity ahead of this morning’s protest.

When met, organisers told The Malaysian Insider that they have already run afoul the authorities as both the local council and the police have refused to give their go-ahead for the mass rally.

The Himpunan Hijau Lestari event coordinator Zaaba Abdul Samad (right) speaks to The Malaysian Insider at an interview recently. – Picture by Siow Feng Saw


Three roadblocks are expected to be erected to block the single carriageway into Kampung Sungai Rengit, but event coordinator Zaaba Abdul Samad said the authorities “may be able to stop the vehicles but not the people”.

The outspoken activist added that the Pengerang issue would likely be Umno’s sore point, even affecting its chances of recapturing the parliamentary seat in the coming polls.

He pointed out that during the previous two elections in 2004 and 2008, Umno’s Pengerang MP Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said had cruised to easy walkover victories as the opposition had trouble with its candidates.

“But this time, we will ‘lawan tetap lawan’ (fight to the end),” he said.

When met in Kampung Sungai Rengit earlier, Himpunan Hijau chairman Wong Tack told The Malaysian Insider that the Pengerang issue should not be regarded as a matter of concern only for the local villagers.

He pointed out that much like the anti-Lynas movement in Kuantan, where the government’s approval of Australia-based Lynas Corporation’s rare earth refinery had caused public uproar due to safety concerns, the Pengerang project was no different.

“This is not about Sungai Rengit or Pengerang. It is a national issue.  That is why we can see thousands of people coming in from across the country… they know they have to come forward, they know they need to stick together to ensure the country has its future, that our children have their futures,” he said.

Happy Mooncake FestivalI!

The Mid-Autumn Festival falls on tomorrow (30th September 2012), PKR Vice President and Kuantan MP YB Fuziah Salleh wishes all an early Happy Mooncake Festival that reflects REFORMASI!

According to a widespread folk tale, the Mid-Autumn Festival commemorates an uprising in China against the Mongol rulers of the Yuan Dynasty (1279–1368) in the 14th century. As group gatherings were banned, it was impossible to make plans for a rebellion. Noting that the Mongols did not eat mooncakes, Liu Bowen of Zhejiang Province, advisor to the Chinese rebel leader Zhu Yuanzhang, came up with the idea of timing the rebellion to coincide with the Mid-Autumn Festival. He sought permission to distribute thousands of moon cakes to the Chinese residents in the city to bless the longevity of the Mongol emperor. Inside each cake, however, was inserted a piece of paper with the message: “Wipe out the Mongols on the 15th day of the 8th month”. On the night of the Moon Festival, the rebels attacked and overthrew the government. What followed was the establishment of the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644), under Zhu. Henceforth, the Mid-Autumn Festival was celebrated with moon cakes on a national level.

Ongkili must cancel TOL, say anti-Lynas groups

The Malaysian Insider
UPDATED @ 01:05:08 PM 29-09-2012
By Ida Lim
September 29, 2012

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 29 — The government must revoke the temporary operating licence (TOL) issued to Australian miner Lynas Corporation for its controversial rare earth plant in Kuantan, local environmental activists have said.

“Today, Himpunan Hijau together with Stop Lynas Coalition (SLC) and Save Malaysia Stop Lynas (SMSL) call upon the Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Maximus Ongkili (picture), to immediately withdraw the temporary operating licence (TOL) that has been wrongly issued to Lynas,” Himpunan Hijau’s national steering committee said in a statement yesterday

The group claimed that there are many “irregularities” in the approval and issuing of the TOL to Lynas.

“We suspect the decision by the Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) to issue the TOL is either due to pressure or has been induced by certain quarters.

“Ongkili must realise that it is his responsibility and duty to stop such an improper practice. It is within his jurisdiction as a minister to do so,” Himpunan Hijau said.

Ongkili had in June decided that there was “no strong justification” for him to set aside AELB’s January 30 decision to award the TOL, following an appeal by three Kuantan residents to the minister.

“We want an immediate and decisive action from MOSTI (Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation) to cancel the TOL. Failing to do so, Himpunan Hijau will mobilise thousands to meet Ongkili at his MOSTI office.”

A complaint about the “irregularity” will be made to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), the group said, adding that it expects a “thorough investigation”.

Himpunan Hijau also warned Lynas investors including Sojitz Corp that “thousands of people” have registered to join its blockade campaign.

The group was referring to its plans to block Kuantan port to prevent Lynas from shipping in rare earth ore to the country.

It said that Malaysians “are very determined to stop Lynas”, saying: “We will carry out an all-out war to ensure that the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP) can never operate in our country.”

On Tuesday, the Kuantan High Court froze the TOL for one week until the October 4 hearing for an application to permanently suspend the licence, causing Lynas shares to drop by 8 per cent.

There are two judicial review cases in the Kuantan High Court where five Kuantan residents are challenging the federal government’s decision to award a TOL to the Australian miner.

SLC recently failed in its bid to get leave from the Court of Appeal for another judicial review of AELB’s decision to grant a TOL to Lynas.

The TOL Lynas received weeks ago from Malaysian authorities has paved the way for its rare earth plant to begin operations despite widespread public protests over safety and environmental concerns.

Lynas said it would begin transporting and completing all steps to prepare enriching the rare earth ore mined in Australia by October.

The TOL allows Lynas to operate for a period of two years beginning September 3.

The AELB had emphasised that Lynas must adhere to all requirements and conditions imposed by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation through the Atomic Energy Licensing Act.


The Malaysian Insider

Oleh Nomy Nozwir
September 29, 2012

KUALA LUMPUR, 29 Sept — Himpunan Hijau hari ini bersama-sama Stop Lynas Coalition dan Stop Lynas Save Malaysia menuntut kementerian sains, teknologi dan inovasi agar membatalkan lesen operasi sementara (TOL) yang diberikan kepada syarikat pemprosesan nadir bumi, Lynas.

Menurut kenyataan media yang dihantar kepada The Malaysian Insiderhari ini, kumpulan pemantau alam sekitar itu meragui TOL Lynas diluluskan oleh Badan Pelesenan Atom Berhad (AELB).

“Kami merasakan kelulusan ini dilakukan setelah mendapatkan tekanan dari kumpulan tertentu yang mempunyai kepentingan.

“Oleh itu kami mahu menteri Datuk Seri Maximus Ongkili untuk memansuhkan semula TOL untuk Lynas,” katanya lagi.

Mereka juga mahu membawa isu ini ke Suruhanjaya Pencegahan Rasuah Malaysia (SPRM) untuk menyiasat perkara ini.

“Jika gagal melakukan perkara ini, kami akan datang ke pejabat kementerian sendiri untuk menyampaikan bantahan.

“Kami juga memberi amaran kepada Sojitz Corp dan pelabur untuk Lynas yang lain bahawa kami akan mengadakan tunjuk perasaan terbesar dalam negara,” katanya lagi.

Menurut salah seorang ahli jawatankuasa Himpunan Hijau, Wong Tack berkata, ini adalah sentimen rakyat Malaysia dan jika Sojitz Corp dan yang lain-lain enggan berganjak, pelaburan mereka akan lebur.

Lembaga Pelesenan Tenaga Atom Malaysia (AELB) mengeluarkan lesen operasi sementara (TOL) bagi Lynas Corp walaupun bantahan meluas, berhujah bahawa pelombong Australia itu terikat di sisi undang-undang untuk membuang sisa radioaktif dari kilang dan mengembalikan baki ke Australia.

Lynas Corp telah memohon ke Australia untuk “mengimport bahan” dari joji walaupun dasar Canberra adalah untuk menolak sisa radioaktif, kata seorang Diplomat Australia awal bulan ini.

Anwar: BN’s budget handouts merely ‘titbits’ for the poor

The Malaysian Insider
UPDATED @ 09:25:39 PM 28-09-2012
By Clara Chooi September 28, 2012

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 28 ― Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim today described Barisan Nasional’s (BN) Budget 2013 handouts as mere “titbits” fed to the poor and middle income earners, pointing out that the move would do nothing to narrow the country’s income gap.

The prime minister hopeful agreed that the fresh round of cash handouts in Budget 2013 to middle- and lower-income Malaysians was proof that the government was merely concerned with its chances at the ballot boxes in the coming months.

“The announcements of handouts to general Malaysians is just a small dosage for the elections… but the basic structural problem of the country, where the rich cronies and their family members amass millions of dollars of profits through improper means ? that is left intact,” Anwar said.

He pointed out that disbursing one-off cash aids to Malaysians but failing to address these allegedly “improper” amassing of wealth by government cronies would not help improve the livelihoods of the masses.

“That is our problem ? because the profits amassed by the rich, in the billions, should be fairly distributed to those in the middle to lower income categories.

“Now, all you do is feed titbits to these groups but you do not touch the massive monopolies that have reaped billions from the country,” he said.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak unveiled earlier today a Budget 2013 filled with more goodies and cash handouts for Malaysians in a move that his political foes believe is tailored to bolster BN’s chances at the ballot box when polls are held.

He promised a whopping RM3 billion in one-off payments to families earning below RM3,000 monthly under the second instalment of his highly-criticised Bantuan Rakyat 1 Malaysia (BR1M) and a 1.5-month bonus for the 1.4 million-strong civil service in what is seen as an election budget before polls that must be held by mid-2013.

The prime minister, who is also the finance minister, gave a RM250 handout to unmarried citizens above 21 years old and earning less than RM2,000 ? the bulk of the three million new voters who will head to the ballot box in the next general election.

Schoolchildren will also get RM100 each from Putrajaya next year, while RM1.2 billion has been allocated for senior citizens, children, disabled workers and those with chronic illnesses under the 1 Malaysia Welfare Programme.

Najib also cut one percentage point in income tax for the first RM50,000 of chargeable income, providing minor relief to the 1.2 million taxpayers in a country of 28 million.

Lynas faces cash-flow risk with delays to plant start-up

The Malaysian Insider
September 27, 2012

A general view of the Lynas plant in Gebeng, Kuantan. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 27 — Delays in starting Australian rare earth giant Lynas Corporation’s Malaysian plant in Kuantan is a reminder that foreign companies face huge financial risks setting up shop in emerging markets with further hold-ups threatening the miner’s cash flow, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) has reported. 

“With an election in Malaysia looming early next year, political risk there will only intensify. Foreign companies in a sensitive industry can’t be complacent,” the international business newspaper warned yesterday in an article published in its column “Heard on the street”.

Pointing to the Sydney-based company, WSJ noted that Lynas’ business had been hurt by the multiple court cases raised by local environmental groups and political opponents — the latest being a suspension of its activity at the plant pending a hearing on October 4.

Despite securing recently a two-year temporary operating licence (TOL) from the Malaysian Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) enabling it to fire-up the plant, Lynas has been thwarted from doing so at almost every turn, forcing the company to renegotiate its contract with a Japanese lender last Tuesday.

Several grassroots groups have applied for an injunction to block the TOL but are pushing to stop the plant from ever firing up.

Unprecedented public anger against the Lynas plant has been fertilising Malaysia’s green movement and could affect voter sentiment ahead of national polls that must be called by April next year.

“The possibility of an injunction is serious. A major delay in operating the plant could hurt cash flow,” WSJ said.

Several financial institutions estimate that Lynas will incur bigger debts to finance its operations.

The Deutsche Bank estimated earlier this month that Lynas needs about US$120 million (RM372 million) more in working-capital financing to see it through the months ahead, but the reworked contracts cap the amount the Australian miner can borrow in the short term to US$80 million, WSJ reported.

Citing Hong Kong-based financial house CLSA, WSJ reported that Lynas may be forced to sell its stock to raise funds next year if the plant is not operational in the next three months.

Lynas had said in April that delays in obtaining the licence for its facility, which was initially approved in January, may have “very serious consequences” for the RM80 billion worth of rare earth orders already received as it is “sold out for the next 10 years.”

However, Lynas remains upbeat it will be able to operate its RM2.5 billion plant on schedule in October.