Health Minister Liow Tiong Lai was criticised for saying everything is normal in Bukit Koman gold mining area.
PETALING JAYA: It is unprofessional and misleading for the Health Ministry to say that everything is normal in the Bukit Koman gold mining area, the Pahang Raub Ban Cyanide in Gold Mining Action Committee (BCAC) said here today.
The NGO was responding to reports quoting Health Minister Liow Tiong Lai and the ministry’s deputy director-general Dr Lokman Hakim as saying that the presence of illness among residents staying near the gold mine was within normal range.
BCAC chairman Wong Kin Hoong said that a door-to-door survey conducted in May showed that half of the residents staying near the area were suffering from poor health.
“The concentration of the illnesses such as eye irritation, skin rashes, and persistent bad cough is within the two-kilometre radius from the gold mining area,” claimed Wong.
He said that if the gold mine operator Raub Australia Gold Mine (RAGM) was confident that it was not causing health problems, it would have not barred the NGO from gathering details on its operations and its waste discharge.
He also dismissed Liow’s claims that cyanide was used to mine gold for centuries, saying that it was only in February 2009 that RAGM started using cyanide at the mine.
Wong reminded the government not to take their plight lightly as the residents knew their rights.
“All we ask for is the right to live without the fear of an ecological disaster as we cherish this place, where we were born and raised,” he said.
The NGO would hold a mass gathering on Sept 2 to raise public awareness on their plight.