By Boo Su-Lyn
KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 26 – PKR stood behind Fuziah Salleh today after a PAS lawmaker attacked the party?s Kuantan MP for protesting against the construction of a controversial rare earth plant near the Pahang capital.Last Wednesday night on TV3, PAS’s Hulu Langat MP and nuclear scientist Che Rosli Che Mat accused PKR of spinning the issue for its own benefit, saying he was “ashamed” that they would resort to arguments with no scientific or academic basis.
“BN (Barisan Nasional)’s ploy of using the Umno-owned TV3 to discredit YB Fuziah Salleh, KeAdilan vice president and Kuantan MP?s relentless campaign together with the Anti-Lynas movement against the Lynas Advanced Material Plant (LAMP) in Gebeng, Kuantan, is utterly desperate and despicable,” said PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar in a statement today.
“BN resorted to [hiding] behind two nuclear experts that misrepresented the aims and objectives of the Anti-Lynas movement in order to further BN’s narrow and divisive political objectives,” added the Lembah Pantai MP.
TV3 ran a news piece by environmental journalist Karam Singh Walia, quoting radiology safety and health expert Dr Ahmad Termizi Ramli?s as well as Che Rosli’s claims that Fuziah had been misleading the public by comparing the RM700 million refinery being built by Australian miner Lynas Corp to nuclear facilities.
Nurul Izzah pointed out, however, that the Anti-Lynas movement – which is backed by Pakatan Rakyat (PR) – did not merely object to the dangers of radioactivity.
“On the contrary, the movement opposed LAMP on the basis that operating a rare earth refinery in Prime Minister (Datuk Seri) Najib Razak’s home state brings with it other hazards such as health and environmental damage that would have dire consequences for the tourism and fishing industry, thus the local economy as a whole. LAMP will be the world’s largest rare earth plant outside China once it operates,” she said.
The PKR lawmaker also stressed that Zulkefly Mohd Omar, a PAS central committee member and the Environment Bureau chairman, has released a statement supporting the Anti-Lynas movement.
Fuziah has demanded a retraction and an apology from TV3 and also local rival Datuk Ti Lian Ker, who is Kuantan MCA chief, for alleged defamatory remarks made against her.
Pahang PAS has also called for its federal leadership to haul up Che Rosli to explain his sudden outburst on the Umno-owned broadcaster.
Fuziah said in a statement earlier today that Che Rosli was only speaking in terms of radiological hazards, whereas she and the residents living around the plant in the Gebeng industrial zone have consulted at least six experts in fields such as public health, chemical engineering, nuclear physics and environmental law.
The review led by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) put forward 11 recommendations for Lynas to meet before beginning operations which have been adopted by Putrajaya.
But Lynas has denied reports that the new conditions set by the government will delay the plant by up to two years, insisting that it remains on track to begin operations and complete phase one of the plant by the end of 2011.
The Australian mining giant has said that its plant – which would extract rare earth metals crucial for high-technology products like smartphones, hybrid cars and wind turbines – would create a RM4 billion multiplier effect annually and 350 jobs for skilled workers.
Although reports say the plant may earn RM8 billion for Lynas, critics question the real economic benefit of the project, pointing to the 12-year tax break the Australian miner will enjoy due to its pioneer status.