The Malaysian Insider – PKR, PAS say to decide on Lynas PSC after motion tabled

By Shazwan Mustafa Kamal
March 19, 2012

A sample of mud containing rare earth. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, March 19 — PKR and PAS said today they will only decide whether to participate in the parliamentary select committee (PSC) on the Lynas issue after Parliament tables a motion on the matter tomorrow. 

This is despite DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng saying his party will abstain from taking part in the said PSC. He also called the panel a sham.

He charged that the PSC, expected to be proposed in Parliament tomorrow, was the Najib administration’s way of legitimising the controversial Lynas Corporation plant, which activists claim would be an environmental hazard.

But PKR and PAS leaders who spoke to The Malaysian Insider said that they will only make their decision after hearing the “terms and reference” of the PSC.

“We would want to listen to the terms first tomorrow when it is tabled in Parliament. After that we will decide,” PAS research director Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad said.

PKR vice-president Fuziah Salleh said that her party leadership had not reached a final decision on the matter, and would want to hear the terms when they are listed in Parliament tomorrow.

“We have a set list of terms in mind, and it is important that it is adhered to. We will see the terms and gauge whether the government is serious in addressing the issue,” she told The Malaysian Insider.

Another PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar pointed out that Pakatan Rakyat (PR) had not immediately agreed to participate in the PSC on electoral reforms, and only decided after the government announced the scope and composition of the panel.

“It bears reminding that the anti-Lynas representatives are also against the narrow scope of the Lynas PSC.

“All these concerns must be taken into consideration before we make our decision,” the Lembah Pantai MP told The Malaysian Insider.

The Cabinet agreed last week to the formation of a bipartisan PSC to look into the Lynas controversy but Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak irked the project’s detractors when he said on Saturday the panel’s purpose was not to decide the fate of the plant in Gebeng, Kuantan.

It bears reminding that the anti-Lynas representatives are also against the narrow scope of the Lynas PSC. — Nurul Izzah Anwar

Instead, Najib had said the PSC is part of Putrajaya’s engagement process to ensure the public understands the issues at hand.

“It has to do with the process of engagement with the people and for them (the 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.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz said on Saturday that the bipartisan panel would comprise nine members — four Barisan Nasional (BN) lawmakers, three PR MPs and one independent together with Umno minister Datuk Seri Khaled Nordin as chairman.

He said the panel would be tasked with getting feedback from stakeholders such as experts and citizen groups. It is expected to present its findings within three months.

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.

Critics of the refinery want Putrajaya to direct the nation’s nuclear regulator to reverse its decision to approve Lynas’s 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 as to 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 earth 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 earth refinery in the world upon completion — will not be hazardous and can be recycled for commercial applications.

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