Since last week, it has been as if the government is insisting on shifting goalposts when it comes to the Lynas advanced material plant in Gebeng.
Not only did the energy, science, technology, environment and climate change ministry put the company through an academic review committee and public hearing, Lynas is now being delayed by pending approvals and an awkwardly established bipartisan caucus.
Allow me to point out the awkward – if this caucus idea goes through for a business that has not breached a single regulation as heard during the public hearing, will we be doing the same for other industries as well?
Will we have a caucus on illegal migrant labourers in plantation, manufacturing and construction companies? How about a caucus on the supposed third national car project? How about another one for cryptocurrency including the Harapan Coin?
How about the Alliance Steel mill in Pahang which was in breach of regulations during Deputy Minister Fuziah Salleh’s visit in July? What about the Damansara Shah Alam Highway construction which shook the surrounding buildings earlier this month?
What about the Penang constructions on the hillsides which have killed people?
Are they all not subject to a public hearing and a committee of academics scrutinising their operations?
Now, about the delay.
Apparently, Lynas needs permission from the Department of Environment (DoE) under the ministry to process the raw materials already imported, to increase their output. Without this approval, Lynas production will be temporarily halted in December.
This is a ridiculous regulation akin to allowing Carlsberg to bring in extra barley and yeast, but not letting them make more beer. Seriously, do we do this for gas power plants as well?
Do we tell Silterra which produces semiconductor wafers to apply for surplus output, while having sand waiting in their plant?
But it is what it is – and the DoE is suddenly delaying it. Perhaps Yeo Bee Yin is in the know, perhaps she is not. One wonders if there is an element of sabotage after the public hearing did not go their way.
Obviously, this is not under Fuziah’s purview since it does not involve shariah compliance or even halal certification, which would put it under her ministry.
So is this the new Malaysian government’s way of sabotaging a company just to keep its voters happy and to keep to its propaganda of fear?
They could not convince the regulators to show Lynas as irresponsible, they could not get a committee of academics to find factual evidence for the danger of Lynas, so now they are delaying approval for the company and adding a caucus to review the academic review to make it go their way.
I’m asking this government, specifically the ministry and Yeo to come clean because this is getting rather ridiculous. If this is the way the government wants to move forward with new industries, emerging industries and even projects that have an impact on the environment, then apply it to all, not just Lynas.
Otherwise, it can only be construed as the government discriminating against and sabotaging Lynas for being Lynas, nothing else.
Hafidz Baharom is an FMT reader.
The views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.