Side Views

The Lynas flip-flop — Sam Peh

March 03, 2012

MARCH 3 — For a government which is sure that the Lynas rare earth plant is safe, the flip-flops of the past 48 hours have been illuminating. After saying that the Lynas plant was scientifically and factually safe, Najib Razak did an about-turn and said that Lynas will be asked to store/bury the waste away from the local communities in Kuantan.

Oh let me see, where do we start? Which position should we accept as representative of the Najib administration’s stand on this investment from Australia?

The Atomic Energy Licensing Board aka official spokesman for Lynas (and a regulator which is participating in revenue share with Lynas): the waste from the rare earth plant is safe and can be stored in Gebeng.

Liow Tiong Lai, Maximus Ongkili and a couple of other ministers, obviously concerned with the political fallout rather than health concerns of residents: the waste must be shipped back to Australia. Never mind that the Green Party which keeps Julia Gilliard government in office would never allow the import of any waste.

Najib Razak: Lynas will be asked to store the waste away from Gebeng.

This flip-flopping and verbal gymnastics only serve to confirm what many of us believe: the government’s knowledge about this investment is sketchy at best and now that they have approved this investment they feel they can’t undo the damage completely without upsetting Australia.

Never mind that Australia is becoming synonymous for exporting their rubbish to us: Rio Tinto pollution-spewing smelter in Sarawak, Lynas rare earth plant and the controversial plan to send us some dodgy political asylum-seekers.

Najib may think that he has found a solution to the Lynas problem. He has not. He has only shown us another side to the incompetence of the government and its inability to protect us.

* Sam Peh reads The Malaysian Insider.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication. The Malaysian Insider does not endorse the view unless specified.