I allowed Lynas, now it will benefit Dr M’s electric car plan

PETALING JAYA: Former prime minister Najib Razak has defended his administration’s decision not to close down the Lynas rare-earth factory in his homestate of Pahang, saying it will be more needed now in line with Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s vision for a new electric car industry.

He said the Kuantan factory operated by the Australian-based company was the second biggest producer of Neodymium, a rare-earth metal that is used in high technology electronic products.

“This rare-earth element is crucial if the country is to start the production of electric cars as Tun Mahathir wants.

“The magnet from this rare-earth (metal) is needed for the electric car’s engine,” he wrote on Facebook.

The Lynas factory at the Gebeng Industrial Estate in Kuantan has been at the centre of protests by environmental groups aligned to Pakatan Harapan (PH), with the main grouse being the health hazards from the possible radioactive emission from such a factory.

Critics have also questioned the company over its waste disposal procedures, a lack of public consultation as well as opaque environmental reports.

Najib today said the factory had been operating safely for the last six years and has created thousands of jobs for locals.

“So far, there has not been any sighting of Wolverine or Professor X on the streets of Kuantan,” he said, using the fictional comic character to dismiss concerns on the health of residents living near the factory.

“I am glad I did not succumb to the intense pressure from Pakatan to stop the Lynas project as it has benefitted the country in spearheading the new and renewable energy technologies,” he wrote in his Facebook, adding that he hoped the government would pay attention to these industries in the coming national budget.