Malaysia

Anti-Lynas group enters politics to bring down BN in Pahang

By Ida Lim
January 30, 2013
Latest Update: January 31, 2013 03:00 am

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 30 — Environmental group Himpunan Hijau today said it will campaign against the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition in Pahang in its bid to stop Lynas from operating its controversial rare-earth plant in the state.

“Himpunan Hijau from today onwards is entering politics,” the group’s chairman Wong Tack (picture) told a press conference today, saying that Himpunan Hijau wants to change the state government.

At the launch of the group’s “Pahang Green Corridor” campaign today, Himpunan Hijau said it will campaign for federal opposition Pakatan Rakyat (PR) and will focus more on six out of eight parliamentary constituencies and 14 out of 23 state constituencies in that zone.

“Our job now...is to make sure our team will be down to the kampung (village) and visit every single family and reach every quarter of society,” Wong Tack said, adding that the group will set up committees called Angkatan Mat Kilau to give ceramah (talks) and spread information among those in the rural areas.

When asked what is the assurance that PR will stop the Lynas project if it wrests control of Pahang, Wong said the group has given up hope on the ruling BN coalition.

“We have verbal assurance from the Pakatan Rakyat that if they are in power, they will close down Lynas...so we take this promise seriously,” Wong said.

He added that if PR takes over Pahang in the coming elections, Himpunan Hijau would give the pact a maximum of 30 days to suspend operations at the Lynas plant.

When asked for clarification later, Wong said that Himpunan Hijau currently does not see the necessity in fielding candidates in Election 2013.

“At this moment, we don’t see the necessity but…feel that (we should) focus on strengthening Pakatan Rakyat’s position,” he told The Malaysian Insider when contacted.

Pahang has a total of 14 federal seats and 42 state seats, of which 12 and 38 respectively are now held by the BN coalition. 

Himpunan Hijau said it is placing more focus on seats in the “Pahang Green Corridor” which BN had either lost or won with a narrow margin in Election 2008.

It listed six federal seats, two which BN previously lost — Kuantan and Indera Mahkota, four marginal seats won by the coalition — Temerloh, Raub, Cameron Highlands and Bentong.

For the 14 state seats it was concentrating on, three were lost by BN — Tras, Beserah and Kuala Semantan — while 11 others were won with margins of between 145 and 2139 votes, Himpunan Hijau said in a statement today.

The grassroots movement said the “Pahang Green Corridor” covers areas which have three cases of what it claims pose an “environmental hazard”, namely the Lynas plant in Kuantan, use of cyanide in Raub’s gold mines and deforestation in Cameron Highlands.