Anti-Lynas group aims to vote out BN to stop rare earth plant

Posted on February 2, 2012. Filed under: Pollution |

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 2 – The Barisan Nasional (BN) government may have just given away free votes to its rival Pakatan Rakyat (PR) in the next general elections despite a bid to claw back its customary two-thirds majority in Parliament.

Outraged by Putrajaya’s decision to award a temporary licence to an Australian rare earth producer to fire up the RM2.5 billion Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP) in Gebeng on the outskirts of Kuantan, the Save Malaysia Stop Lynas (SMSL) group, is plotting a nationwide campaign to vote out the BN coalition in national polls widely expected to be called this year.

“We want a safe and clean Malaysia for all. We cannot afford to let a government which does not know its duty of care to bring hazards to our country,” SMSL chief Tan Bun Teet said in a media statement today.

“SMSL will not hold back any more but will take all possible actions to stop Lynas,” he added.

He urged residents from Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s home state to show up and support its cause at the Teluk Cempedak beach this Saturday between 5pm and10 pm.

“We pledge with others to change the government to save our homeland.  Kuantan is a beautiful town.  We do not want to live in the shadow of the pollution of the world’s biggest rare earth refinery,” he said.

The Lynas project hit headlines early last year following its expose in influential US daily, New York Times and triggered an uproar among locals and other groups abroad.

A larger movement called Himpunan Hijau 2.0 also sent out a message today saying it would act to stop Lynas from setting “an ounce of [its] raw materials to reach our shores” and urged Malaysians to join its rally in Kuantan on February 26 at 9.30am.

In a statement today, Himpunan Hijau 2.0 chief, Wong Tack, slammed Najib for remaining a “bystander” and urged him to live up to his 1 Malaysia motto of prioritising Malaysians.

Tan said that Lynas rare earth project is ten times bigger than the now-closed Asian Rare Earth (ARE) project in Bukit Merah, Perak.

Bukit Merah was the site of Malaysia’s first rare earth plant 20 years ago, which was until last year, reported to be still involved in a RM300 million clean-up.

The Japanese-owned Mitsubishi Chemical’s Asian Rare Earth (ARE) plant has been linked to eight cases of leukaemia, seven resulting in death.

Tan accused government radiation regulator, the Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB), of ignoring advice from medical and legal professionals.

Lynas Corp, the Sydney-based miner, is looking to break China’s 90 per cent chokehold on rare earth metals crucial to the manufacture of high technology products such as smartphones, energy-efficient light bulbs and fuel-saving cars.

Production at LAMP, reportedly the world’s biggest rare earth refinery, is expected to start as early as April this year.


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