Malaysia

Himpunan Hijau wants MPs to snub Lynas PSC

By Ida Lim
March 19, 2012

Wong Tack (centre) said the PSC’s formation “proved” that approval for the Lynas refinery was rushed. — File picWong Tack (centre) said the PSC’s formation “proved” that approval for the Lynas refinery was rushed. — File picKUALA LUMPUR, March 19 — Anti-Lynas group Himpunan Hijau today urged all members of parliament to boycott the parliamentary select committee (PSC) on the Lynas Corp rare earth refinery, and continued to insist the facility be shuttered over fears of possible radioactive contamination.

On Saturday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said the Cabinet-approved PSC is intended to engage the public and look into the Lynas issue — “especially the safety factor and any possible threats to health.”

Today, Himpunan Hijau chairman Wong Tack described as “upside down” Putrajaya’s decision to create the panel when Lynas Corp has already been given a temporary green light to operate its rare earth refinery in Gebeng, Kuantan.

He added that the PSC “proves that the hasty approval of the project and issuance of the Temporary Operating Licence (TOL) was not based on facts and information.”

He asked “all MPs to boycott the PSC” and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to refrain from joining in the engagement process.

Himpunan Hijau continues to call for the revocation of the TOL and for the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to examine the approval process.

DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng said today the pary will opt out of the PSC, which he called a “sham”.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz said on Saturday that the bipartisan panel would comprise nine members — four BN lawmakers, three PR MPs, one independent and with Umno minister Datuk Seri Khaled Nordin as chairman.

He said the panel would be tasked with getting feedback from stakeholders such as authorities and citizens groups, and deliver its findings within three months.

Thousands of anti-Lynas protestors attended an opposition-backed rally by Himpunan Hijau last month in the largest protest yet against the rare earth plant that is expected to fire up later this year.

Critics of the refinery want Putrajaya to direct the nation’s nuclear regulator to reverse its decision to approve Lynas’s temporary operating licence (TOL), which will let the Australian miner embark on a two-year trial run.

They allege that Lynas has not given enough assurances on how it will handle the low-level radioactive waste that will be produced at the refinery.

The government has been under pressure from groups to shut down the rare earth project over safety fears, but Putrajaya has stood its ground on the project that was first earmarked for Terengganu.

Lynas maintains that waste from the Gebeng plant — which will be the largest rare earth refinery in the world upon completion — will not be hazardous and can be recycled for commercial applications.