Gebeng briefing called off

Posted on April 14, 2011. Filed under: Pollution |

-The Star-

KUANTAN: Residents here are upset to discover that the public briefing on the rare earth refinery in Gebeng has been postponed indefinitely.

About 100 of them, who had intended to attend the third in a series of briefings organised by the Pahang State Economic Development Corporation (SEDC), became angry when they found a sign outside the venue here saying that it had been called off.

During the state assembly on Tuesday, Pahang Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Adnan Yaakob had announced that the state government would take over the briefings as PSDC had failed to convince the people on the safety of the project.

Unhappy lot: Residents who had shown up for the briefing showing their dissatisfaction when they found out it had been cancelled yesterday.

MCA’s Semambu assemblyman Datuk Pang Tsu Ming had raised the issue during the sitting, calling for the people’s sensitivity and environmental awareness to be considered when bringing in foreign investment.

Adnan chided Pang for siding with the opposition after he (Pang) told the assembly that the people were not confident with the government agencies involved.

The plant, which is being built by Australian mining company Lynas Corporation, drew flak after an article published in the New York Times highlighted the potential hazards of radioactive waste left behind from rare earth processing.

PSDC then brought in experts from the Atomic Energy Licensing Board, Nuclear Malaysia and the Department of Environment to allay residents’ fears, which were heightened by the nuclear crisis in Fukushima, Japan.

Resident Eugene Kua, 25, who wanted to attend the briefing for the first time, said he was disappointed.

“I am sure residents here will ask good questions but it looks like they will not be answered,” he said.

Another resident Tan Bun Teet, 63, said the Mentri Besar should not shirk his duties just because he was upset over the way the dialogue was handled by PSDC.

Welfare home manager Maskhazila Ismail, 29, said the Government must not be afraid of public objection to the plant.

“I wanted to ask more questions as the panel’s answers last week did not make sense,” she said.

When contacted, Adnan said the state government had taken the role in holding the public briefings from Pahang.

“We’ll call respectable experts in various disciplines to give their views,” he said in a text message here yesterday.


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