Mr. Nicholas Curtis AM
Lynas Corporation Ltd.
22nd June 2011
Dear Mr. Nicholas Curtis,
I thank you for your letter dated 21st June 2011. I am indeed honoured that you have chosen to engage finally with me as the elected representative for the Kuantan residents.
I welcome your efforts to engage in meaningful dialogues and your response to the call for more transparent engagements by the public. Before I reply to your invitation to engage in a discussion to address my concerns, please allow me to correct a few misperceptions of me or my statements that you have put down in your letter.
First and foremost I would like to correct your statement in the letter that I “chose not to attend your past public briefings in the year 2009 (organised by fox communication together with PKNP & AELB) due to the fact that I think that it was not a credible engagement process”. That is totally untrue. As a matter of fact on that particular occasion I had actually pre-informed the organizing committee that I was engaged with a prior commitment overseas but nevertheless, I had delegated the important task to my two capable assistants and they were accompanied by Dr. Jayabalan, a public health expert from USM as well as being a member of SAM (Sahabat Alam Malaysia). The three of them were delegated as my representatives. That particular briefing cannot be considered as a public engagement process as it was only targeted to the selected few ie MPs, Aduns and Head of Government Departments. The feedback which I received from my team regarding the briefing was that it had failed to address many of the concerns raised. As for Lynas’s outreach program and briefing to the public together with the Malaysian Nature Society in late 2008, and Lynas’s efforts at planting trees in Kuantan, Yes, I do think that it was just a PR exercise on the part of Lynas.
Lynas went completely silent after that briefing session, which for me goes to show that Lynas lacked the commitments to address the concerns which were raised. Lynas had also halted the project by early 2010 due to financial issues but then later was back in business. For Lynas to argue that the briefing early in the year 2009 was a public engagement event is totally unsubstantiated because there were so many unresolved concerns which were not addressed then and the situation remains till now. The presentation of a concrete waste management plan is one example.
With the lack of transparency and public engagement, coupled with research conducted by my team, plus advise offered to me by specialist of public health, environmental engineers, metal scientists, environmentalist and many other experts from various other disciplines, both locally as well as from overseas, particularly from Australia itself, I am now even more convinced that my initial concerns were indeed real and that it is thus my duty to raise the issues further to the Parliament of Malaysia. I was also convinced further on the issue when the government authorities had time and again failed to make public the relevant documents and information on the LAMP project, in particular the PEIA and RIA. It was only upon the arrival of the IAEA team end of May 2011 that the documents were made available for public viewing, which again showed the lack of accountability and transparency by the government agencies in addressing an issue so pertinent to the people of Kuantan.
At this juncture in time, the AELB director himself had announced that the contents of the RIA report is not satisfactory. On the claims by Lynas that RM 50 million has been paid for some kind of deposit for research, which the DG of AELB has also refuted, certainly has added to the Kuantan folk’s concerns. Yesterday 21st June 2011, the President of Penang Consumer Association had issued a statement that the RIA report is full of holes.
I must stress that I do not take this matter personal against any individual in the establishment of Lynas but am merely performing my duty as a Member of Parliament in raising any disparity in terms of execution or enforcement of the legal requirement in my constituency. I still hold on to my statement that an independent panel is indeed needed to review the safety of the Lynas in a broad spectrum but for MITI’s decision to engage IAEA as the experts, where it is openly known that IAEA is a promoter of nuclear industry, shall not be defined as impartial evaluation or study. I do not have any doubts whatsoever on their credibility in the aspect of their specialisation and expertise, but I will reiterate again that they do not however represent many other disciplines such as Public Health and Environmental concerns.
The Malaysian Medical Association, Malaysian BAR Council, CAP, SAM and many other independent groups had presented their views as well as their substantiated study on LAMP project, but on the other hand Lynas apart from the Government Agencies had so far failed to engage, which you yourself admitted in your letter and had thus failed to contribute towards creating the public awareness and understanding on the matter. The previous recent public briefing organised by AELB and PKNP in March 2011 has failed in addressing the concern of the people. Furthermore the scheduled 8 briefings were stopped indefinitely after 2 sessions. The information provided by Lynas so far has not been in depth and has often contradicted other renowned and credible international research on the subject of rare earth refinery and rare earth processing. This has certainly made a mockery of the Kuantan people and the Kuantan people’s intelligence.
I would like express my sincere heartfelt concern and sympathy with regards to the incident that happened to the personnel of your company. This shouldn’t have happened to anyone who lives in Kuantan, as we have always pride ourselves in claiming that Kuantan is peaceful and tranquillity has always been the trademark of our township. We have been the choice of tourist destination for those who seek for a perfect getaway from their bustling city life.
The incident above had shown and are indeed proofs on how the presence of LAMP in Kuantan can actually bring about instability to the community. Similar show of violence was displayed during the IAEA team visit, where a Pro Lynas group had showed up in force in front of Hyatt hotel, hurling abuse, threat and racist remark, in the open eye of the police. Mr Andansura, the representative of the residents from Balok, the group that calls themselves BADAR was manhandled and his car was kicked and windscreen broken by the group of so called Lynas Supporters. That same particular concern led another NGO, Save Malaysia, Stop Lynas! group to cancel their appointment with IAEA. I hope your personnel had lodge a police report to save guards his security. If you do need further assistance, our Parliamentary Service Centre is always prepared to assist in terms of ensuring the report is properly handled.
For your information, the NGO groups had displayed good discipline in conducting their rights to protest peacefully, even after being instigated by the group who claims to be Lynas Supporter. Even when my team and I wanted to enter the building to present our case to IAEA, we were received with similar rowdy treatment. I hope they are not in any way linked to your company directly, which I fear may cause more distrust within the local community towards your organization.
Thus I support your response to the call by residents for more transparency through open engagements and process of meaningful dialogues. I therefore graciously accept your invitation to discuss constructively the issues that are of great concerns to my constituents as well as to the residents of greater Kuantan.
Also in the true spirit of transparency, may I suggest that the discussion between the two of us be open to observers from amongst the stakeholders as well as the members of the media.
Since Parliament is currently in session right now, may I also suggest that the date Friday 1st July as the date to be set aside for the discussion.
There are other statements in your letter where you claimed that my statement regarding Lynas using Chinese Standards is untrue. I assure you that I will not speak unless I have evidence and facts. But let’s discuss the matter during our open meeting. I will come forth with evidence to my arguments then. While it is correct for you to say that my initial concerns are those regarding the waste management plans, currently I am also adding to my list of concerns to include the processing and operation part of LAMP. There are also other concerns such as how LAMP will affect the health of the public, the damage it will do to the environment, how it will create a negative perception to our tourism industry, the contamination of water sources that will destroy Kuantan’s fishing industry as well as the seafood industry for Kuantan and the whole region
I sincerely hope that on behalf of Lynas, you will agree to this proposal for an open discussion. I will continue to promote positive engagement within the people of Kuantan and I look forward to your amicable reply.
Puan Hajah Fuziah Salleh
MP for Kuantan
Parliament of Malaysia
Reference: Letter from LYNAS CEO Nicholas Curtis to Kuantan MP YB Fuziah Salleh dated 21 June 2011 – http://fuziahsalleh.my/?p=884