The Malaysian Insider – Bipartisan Lynas panel to be led by higher education minister

UPDATED @ 01:37:23 PM 17-03-2012

By Yow Hong Chieh
March 17, 2012

KUALA LUMPUR, March 17 — The nine-man parliamentary select committee on the Lynas issue will be headed by Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Khaled Nordin, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz said today.According Star Online, the de facto law minister said in Ipoh that the panel will also comprise four Barisan Nasional (BN) MPs, three Pakatan Rakyat (PR) MPs and one independent.

The select committee will be tasked with getting feedback from stakeholders like the authorities and groups, and deliver its findings within three months, he said.

Nazri (picture) added that the panel would also review feedback and public opinion of the Lynas rare earth plant in Kuantan before suggesting to Parliament steps that could be taken to address the issue.

MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek announced yesterday that the Cabinet had agreed to set up the parliamentary select committee to look into the Lynas rare earths plant opposed by residents who fear radioactive contamination.

Dr Chua, who is not a Cabinet member, said he was informed of the decision by MCA ministers who attended this week’s Cabinet meeting.

But 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 the general election, 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 earths plant that is expected to fire up later this year.

Critics of the refinery want Putrajaya to direct the nation’s nuclear regulator to reverse its decision to approve Lynas’ temporary operating licence (TOL), which will let the Australian miner embark on a two-year trial run.

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.

The government has been under pressure from groups to shut down the rare earths project over safety fears, but Putrajaya has stood its ground on the project that was first earmarked for Terengganu.

Lynas maintains that waste from the Gebeng plant — which will be the largest rare earths refinery in the world upon completion — will not be hazardous and can be recycled for commercial applications.

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