PETALING JAYA: The body representing the interests of Australian businesses in Malaysia today expressed concern over the government review of the Lynas rare earths plant in Pahang, saying any examination should be public, transparent, objective and evidence-based in the interests of maintaining investor confidence.
The Malaysia Australia Business Council (MABC) said Lynas Malaysia should also be given the opportunity to publicly defend its regulatory and environmental record since it commenced operations in 2012.
“While the government’s right to conduct a review of the operations is not questioned, it is important that such a review should be to assess any breaches of its licence, or for not meeting acceptable international standards.
“The credibility of the review which includes the composition of the review team and the terms of reference is crucial to ensure that it does not damage Malaysia’s reputation as a stable and open investment destination,” it said in a statement.
Shares of Lynas tumbled following confirmation last week that Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Fuziah Salleh, a long-time critic of the plant, would head a government review of its operations.
The plant, which is located in Fuziah’s parliamentary constituency of Kuantan, has long been opposed by green groups over concerns that it produces dangerous radioactive waste.
The review by the 10-member committee will last for three months following which recommendations will be submitted to the government.
Although Lynas pledged to cooperate with any review, it voiced reservations about the committee being led by a long-time anti-Lynas campaigner. It maintains that the plant is safe and that any radioactive waste will be low-level and safely disposed of.
MABC noted that Australian businesses had invested nearly RM30 billion in Malaysia as of the end of last year.
“This investment has created thousands of jobs for Malaysians and helped boost Malaysia’s economic development, intellectual property and skills base,” it said.
It added that Malaysia had long been regarded as an attractive investment destination due to its reliable legal framework; predictable economic, political and policy environment; and demonstrated openness to investment from the government and business community.
“MABC looks forward to continuing our close and cooperative relationship with the Malaysian government in supporting the strong trade and investment relationship we enjoy between our two countries.”