An NGO, Himpunan Hijau, is puzzled over the US$50 million insurance tag recommended by Lynas and the AELB's issuance of a 'conditional' licence.
“We are utterly shocked and angry that a project that can cause so much damage, has so much unbearable risks and with so many conditions attached can be issued a temporary licence,”said Wong Tack, chairman of Himpunan Hijau 2.0, yesterday.
Wong was commenting on the government’s approval of the controversial rare earth plant being built by Australian mining company, Lynas, despite fears it could produce harmful radioactive waste.
Malaysia’s Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) has granted the licence for the plant to begin operations for an initial two-year period under strict safety requirements.
“The issuance of a temporary licence could only mean that the authorities are still unsure of the danger and impact of this project.
“It could only mean that things are not in order,” said Wong, who is also Sabah Environment Protection Association president.
He condemned the authorities for treating the community in Kuantan as “lab rats” and believes “the licence was granted under great pressure from certain quarters”.
He said the Himpunan Hijau 2.0 committee is of the opinion that the licence was approved in isolation and an environment impact assessment had not been carried out.
“The authorities should have waited until 100% compliance, 100% satisfaction and 100% acceptance by the people of Kuantan had been achieved,” said Wong.
The group is also puzzled by the US$50 million insurance tag recommended by Lynas.
“Is this the price tag for the homes of the people of Kuantan? Is this the price tag for the beautiful land that our forefathers have left us and that we all love so much?
‘We won’t be bystanders’
“Is this the price tag for the lives of 700,000 people? Is this the price tag for the lives of our children for generations to come?
“This action by the authorities is a serious violation of human rights. This is a total disregard of the democratic process,” said Wong.
The move by the government, he added, also showed total disrespect of people’s opinion and human lives and how a project can be bulldozed through for the interest of a few people.
Wong’s group now plans to step up protests and promised that the plant would not run without the people’s consent.
“We do not care what nature of licence that Lynas has obtained, through whatever means, be it from the front door or the back door; the people of Kuantan are determined not to allow the plant to operate.
“We are not going to be a bystander when the health and lives of our children are at risks.
“We will not allow an ounce of your raw materials to reach our shores. We will ensure that we will be there to meet you if that happens. We can assure you of that,” he said.
He urged Malaysians to express their strongest anger and objections to the plant by attending Himpunan Hijau 2.0 in Kuantan at 9.30am on Feb 26.
Himpunan Hijau is an initiative to build an alliance dedicated to environmental justice and humanity.
The first Himpunan Hijau was endorsed by more than 80 NGOs, civil movements and political parties and was attended by about 7,000 people.