By Yow Hong Chieh
March 17, 2012
KUALA LUMPUR, March 17 — The parliamentary select committee on the Lynas issue will not decide on the fate of the controversial rare earth plant, Datuk Seri Najib Razak said today.
The prime minister said the panel was, instead, part of Putrajaya’s engagement process to ensure the public understood the issues at hand, according to Bernama Online.
“It has to do with the process of engagement with the people and for them (select committee) to look at all aspects of the project, especially the safety factor and any possible threats to health,” he told reporters in Ipoh.
Najib (picture) explained that the government must engage with the people so any project carried out would not be opposed or create public fear.
“On the Lynas issue, we feel there are still certain things that we need to fulfill, that is, the engagement process, so that we can convince the groups who are still suspicious whether the project is safe or otherwise,” he said.
He added that he hoped the committee would raise awareness on the project so that “we can achieve comfort in terms of better public acceptance”.
The parliamentary select committee on the Lynas issue, announced yesterday, will be headed by Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Khaled Nordin.
The select committee, which has been tasked with delivering its findings within three months, will comprise four Barisan Nasional (BN) MPs, three opposition MPs and one independent lawmaker.
Anti-Lynas activists have downplayed Putrajaya’s decision, saying the special panel was meaningless if it meant Lynas Corp could continue work on its plant in Gebeng, some 25km from Kuantan.
They also said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak should bite the bullet and cancel the project instead of letting the issue drag on until after elections, which must be called by April next year.
Thousands of anti-Lynas protestors attended an opposition-backed rally by Himpunan Hijau last month in the largest protest yet against the rare earth plant that is expected to fire up later this year.
They allege that Lynas has not given enough assurances on how it will handle the low-level radioactive waste that will be produced at the refinery.
Lynas maintains that waste from the Gebeng plant will not be hazardous and can be easily recycled for commercial applications.