The PSC chairman says 'why not' when asked if he would stay near the Lynas plant himself.
KUALA LUMPUR: Lynas Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) chairman Khaled Nordin said today that he saw no reason why he himself could not stay near the controversial rare earth plant as the PSC has found it to be safe based on scientific facts.
“Why not?” replied the Higher Education Minister when asked by a reporter if he regarded the plant in Gebeng, Kuantan, safe enough to stay near it.
Khaled, who was speaking to reporters during break while PSC’s report was being debated in Parliament today, said that “some people” could even hold thorium in their hands and “there’s nothing [dangerous]”.
The PSC report was tabled in Parliament yesterday after a two-month-long study led by Khaled, together with four other Barisan National (BN) MPs and one independent MP. The opposition had boycotted the panel since its formation in March.
After almost seven hours of debate, Parliament accepted the PSC report with BN MPs supporting it and Pakatan MPs protesting it.
The report had recommended that the Lynas plant be given a temporary operating licence as it has met all requirements. The panel came up with 31 recommendations based on public hearing sessions, a working visit to the plant and expert views, among others.
Meanwhile, Khaled denied that the PSC was merely pandering to what Lynas wanted.
“We left things to the 16 local and foreign experts and included all their views and answers, and so it’s not true to say that we were putting in what Lynas is saying word for word,” he said.
He said that the opposition, by boycotting the PSC, had let go of a good chance to find scientific clarification on this issue. “They are just using this as an excuse to refuse to hear the truth on this issue.”
Khaled said that all the recommendations that his committee has come up with should be answered by the government.
“Either all of it or a portion of it… the government cannot ignore our recommendations,” he said.
Earlier, PKR’s Batu MP Tian Chua said that the PSC was never interested in finding out the truth on Lynas.
He alleged that the PSC was inserting into its report a big portion of the views of Lynas. “The core of the issue is: are we [Malaysia] ready to be the rubbish bin for rare earth?”
Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad said that one portion of the report showed inaccuracies and he accused the PSC of hiding the truth and being unprofessional.
“We stayed away from the PSC because Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak said the terms of reference was to prove it [Lynas] was safe, not to find the truth. Therefore I say congratulations to the chairman for doing a job well done,” said Khalid.
“All these issues should have been raised in the PSC, but today you’re accusing the committee of being incompetent; this is hypocrisy. The things you’re saying is based on imagination and not on scientific findings. Is it because if you’re in the PSC, all your questions will be answered and you lose political ammunition?”
Incriminating details excluded
Kuala Krau MP Ismail Mohamed Said noted that even a PAS member testified in the PSC and even the PAS Hulu Langat MP Che Rosli Che Mat, who is a scientist, had said before that it was safe.
Che Rosli then stood up and repeated that he is standing by his statement as an expert that it would not be hazardous to the public if it is properly monitored. However, he added that he was not an expert on radioactive waste disposal.
Meanwhile, about 80 Kuantan residents protested outside at the Parliament gates against the tabling of the report. Twelve representatives from the Save Malaysia, Stop Lynas(SMSL) was allowed entry to Parliament as they were accompanied by some opposition MPs.
SMSL chairman Tan Bun Teet told reporters that the report did not contain all the incriminating details which SMSL would like to have conveyed to the PSC as there was no guarantee that immunity would be granted.
“The PSC report does not contain all the truths as we could not convey what we wanted to convey during our public consultation meeting with PSC. We were afraid that Lynas would drag us to court,” he said.
On April 19, Lynas filed a suit against four SMSL members for defamatory remarks uttered during a press conference.
Speaking to reporters today, the group today vowed to continue its protest against the plant.