Pahang DAP reps vow to continue opposing Lynas despite licence renewal

Yiswaree Palansamy
Anti-Lynas demonstrators rally in front of Parliament compound in Kuala Lumpur April 10, 2019. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 16 ― Seven DAP state assemblymen from Pahang today announced their public opposition of the federal government’s decision to extend Lynas Malaysia Sdn Bhd’s operating license.

In a letter undersigned together, the seven representatives also stood firm in its opposition of the rare earth mining firm’s operation here, saying that they were “deeply disappointed” with the Cabinet.

“Even though Malaysia is constrained by the Basel Convention and Lynas did not comply with the agreement of transporting the radioactive residue abroad in 2012, what Malaysia can and should do is, at the very least, stop renewing Lynas Corp’s operating license.  

“The seven state assemblymen also opine that although Lynas’ license was only renewed for six months with three conditions that are a lot stricter than those set by the previous regime such as constructing a permanent disposal facility (PDF), the Cabinet’s decision can hardly allay the public’s concerns and worries.  

”Over the past eight years, Lynas has accumulated radioactive residue that has exceeded 580,000 tonnes at residue storage facilities, which are vulnerable to natural disaster threats such as floods. This justification alone is more than sufficient to deny Lynas’ request to renew its operating license,” they added.

The letter was undersigned by Bilut state assemblyman Lee Chin Chen, Ketari state assemblyman Young Syefura Othman, Sabai state assemblyman Kamache Doray Rajoo, Tras state assemblyman Chow Yu Hui, Tanah Rata state assemblyman Chiong Yoke Kong, Mentakab state assemblyman Woo Chee Wan, and Triang state assemblyman Leong Yu Man.

The seven state assemblymen also pointed out the 39th promise in the Pakatan Harapan election manifesto, which highlighted the promise to balance balance economic growth with environmental protection.

They also pointed to the government’s determination in sending back foreign trash illegally dumped in Malaysia, questioning why such determination is void in Lynas’ case, which deals with radioactive residue.

The seven state assemblymen also affirmed their support for Bentong MP Wong Tack, who has been at the forefront of the anti-Lynas campaign.

“Even though he’s been elected as an MP, he utilises his role as a backbencher and continues to fight for shutting down Lynas’ plant outside the Parliament.

 ”We urge the Cabinet to review its decision that is inconsistent with the will of the people and harmful to the public interests. In line with the spirit of the 39th promise in the PH manifesto, the government has to shut down Lynas’ rare-earth processing plant in order to gradually achieve the goal of keeping Malaysia as a green and liveable home,” they added.

Earlier today, Kuantan MP Fuziah Salleh also expressed her regret that the government is letting rare earths producer Lynas run its refinery in Gebeng, Pahang for another six months, saying the decision means locals will have to “suffer” radiation risks from its waste.

The deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Department said the six-month operational extension granted by the Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) yesterday makes the Australian miner the winner, despite the conditions attached to its licence renewal.

 She said her regret was that the Pakatan Harapan government of today has to “bear the burden” inherited by the previous Barisan Nasional government, asserting that Lynas signed an undertaking for the removal of its Water Leach Purification (WLP) radioactive residue from Gebeng previously.

However, she noted that the AELB decision could be the last resort as the present government has limited options due to its contract with Lynas.

In announcing the renewal yesterday, the AELB said the conditions for Lynas to do business in Malaysia include building a cracking and leaching facility abroad, identifying a specific lot to build a PDF with relevant written consent from the state government, and to submit a complete PDF building plan with a sufficient financing plan to pay for its construction and operation.

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