Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Selling Out The People's Interest

Lynas Corp has finally came out with a thinly veiled threat against any move to close its yet to be opened rare earth processing plant in Gebeng, Pahang, Malaysia. Read HERE.

The extraction of rare earths are used for THESE applications. The company boasts of zero harm and sustainable development but no where in the website did it address the concerns of people living nearby its processing plants of potential health hazards caused by leakages of radioactive wastes such as thorium. Read THIS counter view from a watch group.

Lately Lynas Malaysia has come up with a daily notice in the newspaper again boasting of its clean health and safety standards but concerned citizens and non-governmental organizations as well as opposition parties continue to ride on the fear factor should this largest extraction plant in the world begins operation by June this year. And riding on protests and the need to earn back public favors the government has entrusted upon the Atomic Energy Licensing Board to further tighten the terms of compliance which explain the delay in commissioning the plant from September last year.

This tagline sums it up nicely:

Malaysia is littered with ventures where profits are privatized and losses are socialized. If the people of Malaysia are not vigilant, the Lynas plant may very well turn out to be the next radiation disaster.

Although I don't live anywhere near to Gebeng I feel the anxieties of the people there as well as those living or working along the routes such rare earth by products will take by trucks. Spillages can cause widespread hazards that cannot be easily contained. Dust pollution is another reason those in the outskirt also need to worry. Again this is one foreign investment project that the government should have rejected outright from day one when its application landed on its table. No one know, until it is dug out years later, if the approval is laced with some sweetener. It is again a project that goes against public interest which the government ought to ask why did Lynas decided to come to Malaysia instead of processing its goods in Australia itself, or did it investigated if Lynas applied elsewhere and was rejected?

I think Mr. Curtis, Lynas Corp chairman, threat and insinuation that Malaysia will lose out in foreign investment is unjust and unfounded. Any foreign investor will look at the host country's standard of public healthcare to decide if it will be favorable received. Also if the investment is entirely for monetary reason or does it help boost national development through skills transfer besides job creation. If the government doesn't care for its people then what make these investors believe that it will care for them in the long term? A good investor enters a host nation on a partnership to bring benefits for both itself and the locals. A company that is socially responsible should not operate anywhere near residential communities especially where it deals with hazardous products and by products. I wonder why Lynas did not operate on an isolated island instead but of all places choose Malaysia. To the people in and around Gebeng, it seems like they have been bombed by a timeless threat and they can do nothing about it unless a strong political will arise to dismantle the plant and shift it out. If this doesn't get the voters there to vote for the Opposition I don't know what will.

1 comment:

yahoo said...

this is the greatest disservice to malaysians. let's see if this scam comes true. thanks for the simple explanation.

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