Govt should listen to anti-nuke protesters

Posted on April 4, 2011. Filed under: Energy |

Free Malaysia Today

By Charles Santiago

Anyone coming to Port Klang on Sunday morning (April 3, 2011) would have thought a coup was in place. Hundreds of policemen walked around with stern faces, cars were checked and people were questioned as to why they were at the vicinity.

In reality, the people were there to protest against the construction of nuclear power plants in the country – a plan that the government is trying to bulldoze through with as little transparency as possible.

We were not armed with sophisticated weapons but held banners calling on the government to stop its plans to build the two 1,000-megawatt nuclear plants at the possible cost of RM21.3 billion by 2021 and instead listen to peoples’ opinion on this matter.

Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak has been trumpeting his “people first” campaign. But the ground reality is that the people, who were walking to the protest venue, were forced to turn back due to the harassment from the police.

Maybe Najib would listen to public opinion only if it tangos with his own.

I have said this in the past and I am repeating this here – police gangsterism and intimidation are shameless behavior. The police cannot keep going to the mat for Umno politicians.

For example, a protest outside the Klang Utara police station demanding a Royal Commission of Inquiry to investigate the alleged sex video of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim was allowed to go on.

This stinks of double standards and mobilizing the huge number of policemen to aggressively pressure the protesters to turn back is a sheer waste of public resources.

Criminal act

What the government and police have not learnt is that the people would not be cowed down by their selective persecution. The lobby against the nuclear power plants would go on as it is an unacceptable risk to humanity and the environment.

Nuclear power plants are the most dangerous creations of men, next to nuclear warheads. Therefore, I consider it a criminal act on the part of the Malaysian government to insist on building the plants despite strong indications that risks from nuclear disasters are real and long-lasting.

Billions of dollars swayed the president and four top executives of the Tokyo Electronic Power Co (Tepco) to fake safety data over its nuclear reactors.

Likewise corruption is rampant in Umno and clearly the government’s plans to construct the nuclear plants are unaccountable and riddled with lies.

The Malaysian government cannot be taken in by the rosy picture painted by nuclear lobbyists. And neither should the possible kickbacks be an inspiration to go ahead with the construction that would contribute to the creation of tens of thousands of lethal, high-level radioactive waste and result in another Fukushima or Chernobyl.

Three of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactors exploded following the recent earthquake and radiation exposure continue to be a concern for the workers at the devastated nuclear facility.

And Japan seems to be losing the battle to save the fourth nuclear reactor.

The bodies of hundreds killed by the earthquake and tsunami is still lying unrecovered as retrieving them would mean exposure to toxic levels of radiation. If the bodies are cremated, the smoke could spread radioactive material. If they are left to decompose, the bodies would contaminate the soil with radioactive material.

According to medical experts, Ukraine, Russia and Belarus have seen a huge increase in childhood cancer since the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986. The region has also been burdened with the continuing decontamination and healthcare costs.

Thirty one deaths were directly attributed to the Chernobyl explosions. The World Health Organization suggests that the number of deaths potentially resulting from the accident could reach 4,000 while a Greenpeace report puts it at 200,000.

Renewable energy options

Closer to home, at least eight leukemia cases were linked to exposure to radiation from the Asian Rare Earth factory in Menglembu, Perak.

Nuclear lobbyists tell us that nuclear energy is clean and could help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But this argument does not hold water and more so in Malaysia as we are yet to explore renewable energy options as a way of working towards energy efficiency.

The government must look at viable options like using the local renewable energy sources such as geothermal, wind and solar to ensure a sustainable transition for a developing country like ours.

This would provide affordable and secure energy supply and increase human well-being without fossil fuels.

A global move would also create eight million jobs in the renewables sector by 2020.

Najib has said that he would consult the relevant bodies and people before making a conclusive decision. The premier has also indicated that he is still in the midst of reviewing the nuclear project.

We all know that these are mere words used to hood-wink the people. But the people are clear. They do not want nuclear facilities in the country.

And therefore my Pakatan Rakyat colleagues and I would continue working together with the rakyat to exert pressure on the government to abort this idea.


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One Response to “Govt should listen to anti-nuke protesters”

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“Nuclear power as a sustainable alternative to Global Energy Crisis”

The Chernobyl disaster 25 years ago and the recent radiation catastrophe in Fukushima, Japan must not be taken out of context.

Malaysia’s aspiration to have 2 or even 4 nuclear plants is a move in the right direction in the light of current global energy crisis.

Developed(the NUclear Club) and developing/aspiring nations -and even the African Union(AU)-around the world have realise both the significance of nuclear power and Renewable Energy(RE) as twin thrusts in achieving energy sustainability in the long run.

The adoption of nuclear best practices and environmental impact compliance are therefore crucial in ensuring that the Chernobyl and Fukushima incidents will not be repeated in Malaysia and elsewhere in ASEAN/ASIA region.

Jeong Chun Phuoc
Expert Consultant and an Advocate in Competitive Legal Intelligence(CLI)
and a Reader in Competitive Syariah Intelligence(CSI)
He can be reached at

**The above professional analysis is the writer’s personal view and in no way represent the view/position of the research institutes/thinktanks/organisations to which he is currently attached to.

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