KUALA LUMPUR, March 20 — Key opposition leaders Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and Lim Kit Siang tonight joined their Pakatan Rakyat (PR) colleagues in snubbing the parliamentary panel on the Lynas rare earth refinery.
Anwar, who heads the opposition bench in the House, and DAP parliamentary leader Lim declared in a statement here their decision to abstain from participating in the panel’s first meeting tomorrow.
“In line with the stand of PR parliamentarians in rejecting the government’s motion to form the parliamentary select committee (PSC) on the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP) in the Dewan Rakyat today, Opposition Leader (Permatang Pauh) Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and Lim Kit Siang (Ipoh Timor) will not attend the committee’s meeting scheduled for Wednesday, March 21,” read a statement from the opposition leader’s office.
“As such, all three members of the opposition (pact) will not be named as members in the committee.”
Earlier today, the Dewan Rakyat approved a motion to for the PSC, which was tabled by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz, despite furore from the opposition bench.
PR MPs questioned the point of the select committee given that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had already said the government will not be bound by the panel’s decision.
Led by PAS’s Shah Alam MP, Khalid Samad, the lawmakers said the panel was a “gimmick” meant to fool the public into thinking their views counted despite the government having already decided on the matter.
Najib had said last week that the select committee would not decide the fate of Lynas Corp’s rare earth plant in Kuantan, which has stoked fears of radiation pollution.
Nazri answered, however, that the prime minister had only stated that Putrajaya may not choose to abide by the panel’s decision to allay any suspicion that the select committee would not be neutral and independent.
“We have to show that the parliamentary select committee has the right to make its decision…,” he explained.
“It comes back to the issue of neutrality. That’s why the prime minister said we won’t be bound. If he had said yes, then there would be no need for the PSC and we would just decide if we should carry on (with the project) or not.”
Shortly after, the debate descended into chaos despite the best efforts of Deputy Speaker Datuk Ronald Kiandee to keep order, with several opposition lawmakers trying to speak at once while MPs from Barisan Nasional (BN) taunted them to “leave if you don’t like it”.
Ronald then called for the vote, following which about 10 opposition MPs left the hall to speak to the press waiting in the Parliament lobby. They returned shortly after.