Stephanie Sta Maria | March 16, 2012
The nationwide rally will call for the closure of the LAMP and Lynas’ return to Australia.
KUALA LUMPUR: The government’s refusal to shut the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP) even after the Himpunan Hijau 2.0 rallies last month has pushed anti-Lynas groups to send a “louder and clearer” message to both Barisan Nasional and Lynas Corporation Ltd.
The Solidariti SeMalaysia Stop Lynas coalition will join forces with Himpun Hijau in organising a second nationwide rally on April 13 to continue pushing for the LAMP’s closure and Lynas’ exit from Malaysia.
At a media conference today, Badan Bertindak Anti-Rare Earth’s (Badar) chairman Zulkefly Mohamad said that they had received a deluge of e-mails and text message from the public inquiring about a subsequent rally.
The first rally was held on Feb 26 and saw thousands of people gathering in Kuantan, Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Sabah and Perak.
“Many of these people were not able to attend the first rally hence the decision to hold another one in every state, including Sabah and Sarawak,” Zulkefly said. “And it will again be a peaceful rally.”
“The venues will be announced at a later date but we have tentatively chosen Dataran Kermerdekaan in Shah Alam for the Selangor rally.”
Zulkefly also voiced dissatisfaction over the government’s lack of response and anger at attempts to manipulate the situation by branding Lynas as a local and Chinese issue.
“There was a large turnout of Malays at the first rally,” he stated. “And the site of the LAMP is close to Balok where 80% of the residents are Malays. So how can this be purely a Chinese issue?”
Issue transcends race
Solidariti Anak Muda Malaysia (SAMM) spokesman Edy Noor Reduan echoed Zulkefly’s statement and referred to the Bersih 2.0 rally which the government labelled an “Indian issue” because it was headed by S Ambiga.
“So all Malays who supported Bersih were said to have supported an Indian issue,” he said. “Now all the Malays who support Himpunan Hijau are said to support a Chinese issue.”
Edy promised that SAMM would make sure that the youth of all races go to the ground on April 13 to prove that opposition towards Lynas defies race and religion.
When asked whether any of the groups had held dialogues with the authorities or attended the weekly briefing sessions by the Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB), Zulkefly confirmed that a meeting had taken place some time back.
According to him, a group of 15 NGO representatives had met with the International Trade and Industry Ministry secretary-general Rebecca Sta Maria, AELB director-general Raja Abdul Aziz Raja Adnan and representatives from other government departments.
“We questioned them on Lynas’ 12-year tax break, the reason for Lynas coming to Malaysia, research on the recycled products Lynas plans to produce from the residue and the absence of a Detailed Environmental Assessment Impact (DEIA) report,” Zulkefly recalled.
“They either provided vague answers or passed the buck. It almost seemed like there was a higher authority pulling their strings. We strongly suspect hanky-panky in the project and we want to know the real face behind it.”
‘Najib picks Lynas over people’
Asalkan Bukan Abu (ABU) spokesman Haris Ibrahim, meanwhile, pointed out that AELB’s briefings should have been held before Lynas’ temporary operating licence was approved.
He also hit out at allegations that anti-Lynas groups were driven by emotions rather than facts and blamed it on the government’s lack of transparency over the issue.
Haris reminded the media of the government’s previous construction track record which included the collapse of the Highland Towers, Jaya Supermarket in Petaling Jaya and the Terengganu Stadium.
“So with the little facts that we have and our past experiences the government is damn right that we’re going to react emotionally,” he said.
He also explained that the comparison between the LAMP and the Fukushima disaster rested on the
the fact that both governments were once confident that no such disaster would befall their countries.
“The Japanese were assured that their government had learnt from Chernobyl and that such a catastrophe would not happen in Japan,” Haris said. “And when it did the Japanese government learnt more.”
“We have our own experience in Bukit Merah where Malaysians were given a similar assurance. But the government has now appeared to have forgotten that lesson.”
He added that while the Japanese government had provided full transparency in the wake of the Fukushima disaster, BN had kept its cards close to its chest.
“Najib has already chosen between the people and Lynas,” Haris stated. “He has made it clear that Lynas comes first and that Malaysian lives are merely collateral damage for monetary gain.”