Malaysia

Activist threatens to torch Lynas plant if cannot close it down

Wong said the group was prepared to “go to jail and sacrifice [their] freedom” if such was necessary to bring about the plant’s closure. — File picWong said the group was prepared to “go to jail and sacrifice [their] freedom” if such was necessary to bring about the plant’s closure. — File picKUALA LUMPUR, Feb 4 ― Environmental group Himpunan Hijau is threatening to burn down Lynas Corps’ controversial rare-earth refinery if the newly-elected government fails to shutter it after Election 2013, chairman Wong Tack today said.

Wong today told The Malaysian Insider that the anti-Lynas group will burn down the refinery out of “anger and frustration” if the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition retains power.

He said that this would also apply if Pakatan Rakyat (PR) manages to wrest control but fails to fulfil its promise to close operations at the Lynas plant.

“If Pakatan (is) in power and still refuses to close down the plant, they (the people) will be even more frustrated and angry... Our position is we will have another uprising, bring down Pakatan and burn down the plant,” he said.

He pointed out that Himpunan Hijau is currently giving its support to the federal opposition because of their promise to close down the Lynas facility and Bukit Koman gold-mining operation involving the use of cyanide.

He appeared to be warning PR, saying: “We believe the political position is given by the people. We bring you up to the position, we can also bring down your position.”

Wong further said that there is no other alternative if the group’s demand for the shuttering of the Lynas plant remains unmet after elections.

“There’s no other option. Why I resort to violence? I have given peace enough of a chance,” he said, adding that the group consistently used peaceful means.

When it was pointed out that arson was a criminal offence, Wong claimed that the “people in power are breaking the law”.

“At this moment, the people in power are breaking the law and allow this sort of destruction in this country. Who is actually breaking the law?” he asked.

Wong was also asked about possible court charges or action taken by the authority if the group goes ahead with its plans.

“We are prepared to face it,” he said, adding that if there is a “need to go to jail and need to sacrifice our freedom, then let it be.”

He appeared to be unperturbed by the government possibly banning Himpunan Hijau.

“We never asked government to approve our movement”, adding that it was a manifestation of “people’s power”.

Wong also said that those who disagreed with his stand could either remove him from the Himpunan Hijau leadership or act on their own.

“I’ll lead Himpunan Hijau as a movement towards this stand,” he said, referring to the last-resort move of burning the plant.

Last week, Wong Tack declared that Himpunan Hijau ― a green movement protesting against what it deems to be environmentally hazardous projects ― would be entering politics.

He had said that the group would actively campaign for PR ahead of Election 2013 in a bid to bring down the ruling BN government in Pahang to end Lynas’s operations there, focusing particularly on a “Green Corridor” within the state.

Himpunan Hijau said it will focus more on seats that BN had either lost or won by a slim margin in the state.

Wong also said then that PR had given a “verbal assurance” that the pact will close down the Lynas plant if it comes into power, adding that Himpunan Hijau took the promise seriously.

But he had said that PR must suspend the refinery’s operations within 30 days of taking over Pahang.

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