PETALING JAYA: A PPBM Supreme Council member has urged the government to judge Lynas Malaysia based on merit, not “political hysteria”.
Akhramsyah Muammar Ubaidah Sanusi, who is also a chemical engineer, accused PKR’s Kuantan MP Fuziah Salleh of leading such sentiments since 2011, which he said had led to many missed opportunities for the Malaysian economy.
In a statement, he referred to a proposed 2012 joint venture between Siemens and Lynas to manufacture high-end rare earth magnets in Kuantan. He said the plan never materialised due to the perceived high political risk.
Siemens instead built the plant in Vietnam, exemplifying, he said, why no similar rare earth-dependent manufacturer had chosen to build a supply chain in the area.
This is despite Lynas producing 22% of the world’s rare earth elements necessary for producing high-tech products, from mobile phones and flat-screen televisions to turbines for wind generators and electric vehicle motors.
Accusing Fuziah of acting irresponsibly in the matter, he said she and her “larger cabal”, which included Bentong MP Wong Tack, were “seeking forgiveness for their irresponsibility by claiming that their environment, or more specifically, the environmental health of the community, is their priority”.
He noted that Lynas had a six-year track record of safe operations supported by audit reports from both government regulators such as the Department of Environment (DoE) and Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB), as well as the International Atomic Energy Agency and the review committee commissioned by the new government.
He said the review committee, led by Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin, and comprising experts previously critical of the Lynas Advanced Material Plant (LAMP), had published a report that supported its continued operations.
However, he claimed Fuziah was taking the “hysteria” to “new heights” by “spinning the reported findings and through emotive misinformation”.
“Bahagian 8 from page 91 of the LAMP Review Committee Report endorses the building of a permanent disposal facility (PDF) for all the waste, including the mildly radioactive waste, and urging completion of the research for the conversion of the said waste to safe materials such as fertilisers with the ongoing support of local universities,” he said.
“Exporting the waste is only seen as an option should the first two recommended efforts be deemed unsuccessful.”
He also questioned the push by Fuziah, Wong Tack and others for the removal of waste on grounds of environmental health when in fact the main threat to the health and safety of Kuantan’s community was the bauxite industry which “regularly paints the town red with dust”.
He voiced concern that the Cabinet might decide on Lynas’ fate based on a case presented by a minister who had been influenced by such claims.
“Yeo was publicly opposed to Lynas before her appointment as the minister, and now presides over the plant’s regulators, the DoE and AELB. As a Pakatan Harapan leader, our higher standards should have led her to recusing herself from decisions pertaining to Lynas, instead of being the one that instructs the regulators.
“As she has chosen not to recuse herself, one would expect her to at least demonstrate her impartiality by visiting the plant formally before forming any recommendations on Lynas’s fate. She has not.”
He said the Cabinet must stand above political hysteria and residual bias as Malaysia’s reputation as a high-end industrial and technological investment destination was at stake, in addition to the livelihoods of Lynas’ employees, suppliers and their families.
“At the very least, as a chemical engineer who has operated a hazardous plant before, I recommend that key Cabinet members, even the prime minister, visit the Lynas plant before deciding on its fate.”