KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 26 – Pakatan Rakyat (PR) leaders in Pahang are baying for blood after TV3 featured PAS’s Hulu Langat MP Che Rosli Che Mat in a primetime news segment supporting the controversial rare earth plant currently being built near Kuantan.
PKR vice president Fuziah Salleh, who has led calls against the RM700 million refinery being built by Australian miner Lynas Corp, has demanded a retraction and an apology from the Umno-owned broadcaster 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 that was televised on Wednesday night.
Kuantan MP Fuziah said the clip “is just a concerted plot by the Barisan Nasional (BN) administration to continue their agenda of protecting Lynas for their own benefit and not for the rakyat.” PAS state information chief Suhaimi Md Saad told The Malaysian Insider that Che Rosli’s actions were unacceptable as the nuclear scientist could have used party channels or even voiced his support for the plant in party organ, Harakah.
“We know he supported the plant when we first discussed the issue in 2009. But after consulting other experts, PAS’s stand was to oppose the project. But now he has gone into the enemy?s camp to attack his own party,” he said.
TV3 ran a news piece by environmental journalist Karam Singh Walia quoting radiology safety and health expert Dr Ahmad Termizi Ramli and Che Rosli claiming that Fuziah had been misleading the public by comparing the project with nuclear facilities.
Che Rosli went on to accused PKR of spinning the issue for their own benefit, and that he was “ashamed” that they would resort to arguments that have no scientific or academic basis.
But Fuziah said in a statement 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 half a dozen experts in fields such as public health, chemical engineering, nuclear physics and environmental law.
“What is stopping TV3 and Karam from engaging with all these other experts? Because these other experts do not concur with the stance of the BN government and they refuse to be used as tools towards BN objectives and goals,” she said.
Representatives from local residents’ groups opposed to the plant also told The Malaysian Insider that there was suspicion among their ranks that Che Rosli had been paid off or was being influenced by BN.
“We want PAS to take firm disciplinary action against him to show it truly supports the residents of Beserah,” said Andansura Rabu, who leads Badar, a group of Beserah residents who live as close as two kilometres away from the plant.
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 will extract rare earth metals crucial for high-technology products like smartphones, hybrid cars and wind turbines – will 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 have questioned the real economic benefit of the project, pointing to the 12-year tax break Lynas will enjoy due to its pioneer status.