A SPECIAL THANKS TO JADE LEE FOR HER REMARKABLE ORGANIZATION SKILLS & TO ALL THE SPONSORS FOR MAKING THIS TRIP POSSIBLE. ALSO THANKS TO ALL THE KUANTAN FOLKS FOR YOUR SUPPORT & UNDYING COMMITMENT TO THIS CAUSE! TOGETHER WE WILL STOP LYNAS!
Save Malaysia, Stop Lynas! took the fight to the heart of the issue. And there we were when 12 of us took a jet plane to Sydney & paid Lynas a visit. This privately funded trip was made possible by some kind donors in the Kuantan community. As businesses were affected and residents considering to leave their beloved hometown if Lynas Corporation is given the green light to operate their rare earth plant, many stepped forward & encouraged Save Malaysia to send a team to Australia to rally up enough support & to create awareness among the Aussies in regards to this issue. Many locals there were ignorant about Lynas' intentions & many still did not know the adverse effects of the rare earth industry.
Save Malaysia embarked on a productive trip & got right down to work on a packed schedule in Sydney & Canberra. We met up with Amnesty International folks & other NGOs on the first day, picketed infront of Lynas' Headquarters on the second day, met members of the Australian Parliament on the third & held a talk with the local university students on the fifth. The sixth day was a bonus as we consolidated with the Bersih 2.0 rally in Sydney & were given a platform to raise our issue by the organizers.
With minimal sleep, biting cold weather and basic lodging (not to mention tonnes of sandwiches for meals because of expensive food prices), Save Malaysia's Team to Australia successfully completed their mission with very little to complain about. Drama notwithstanding, as a team member nearly missed the bus to Canberra when he was made to collect luggages from the hotel & the taxi that was supposed to turn up to pick him to the bus station failed to do so, a senior member of the team lost his way in Canberra City after visiting the toilet & our treasurer fainted from to much stress upon arrival back in KLIA. Oh, did we mention that we were invited by Lynas' CEO, Nick Curtis to his office as well? (We'll keep the details of the meeting for now.) ;)
All said & done, Save Malaysia will reiterate that our goal to stop Lynas will be long & winding road & many battles ahead are expected, but what we are confident now is that we have made new comrades in Australia & they are ready to take up virtual arms with us to Save Malaysia & Stop Lynas! .....Gidday Mate!
TRIP DIARY (prepared by Haji Ismail Abu Bakar):
1st Day (4th July, 2011)
- Arrival @ Sydney International Airport & met up with Jade Lee
- Met up With Holly from FoE (Friends of The Earth) @ University Technology of Sydney (UTS) & planned for the picket at Lynas HQ the next day.
- Had a meeting with Amnesty International & other NGOs @ Amnesty International Australia's Head Office. 30 over people from various human rights & environmental NGOs attended this meeting & pledged their help to create more awareness of the Lynas issue throughout Australia.
2nd Day (5th July, 2011)
- Picketed infront of Lynas HQ @ Pitt Street (Substantial press coverage) The Australian & Sydney Morning Herald, the most widely read newspapers in Australia, reported the demo in their business sections. The demo participants were suited up in Hazmat suits & radioactive stickers, armed with placards & banners. Holly (FoE), Jade Lee, Tan Bun Teet (Save Malaysia Chairman), Dr Phua (Save Malaysia Vice-Chairman), Tuan Haji Ismail (Save Malaysia Vice-Chairman) & Clement Chin (Save Malaysia, Public Relations Officer) were interviewed by the local & international press. There were minimal Police presence & about 20 people (Save Malaysia's team + Australian activists from various NGOs) participated in the demo.
- Dr Tan Kah Kheng, Prof Chan Chee Khoon, Tan Bun Teet, Clement Chin & Jehan Bakar was invited to meet with Lynas' CEO Nick Curtis @ Lynas' Office.
- The team met with EDO (Environment Defense Office) to discuss strategies to battle Lynas on the legal front.
- Left for Canberra by bus
3rd Day (6th July, 2011)
- The whole contingent met up with 3 Parliament Ministers: Scott Ludlum (Green Party), Doug Cameron (Labour Party) & Lee Rhiannon (Green Party) @ The Australian Parliament to canvas for support & to elevate this issue to a political / governmental level.
- Dr Tan Kah Kheng was interviewed by a local radio station.
4th Day (7th July, 2011)
- Took a break by heading out to Canberra City Centre for a stroll.
5th Day (8th July, 2011)
- Left for Charles Stuart University, Albury by bus
- The team engaged the students of Charles Stuart University @ The Students on Sustainability Camp (SOS). Set up an outdoor stall to sell Save Malaysia, Stop Lynas! T-shirts & other merchandises. Held workshop with the attendees & briefed them about the Lynas issue.
- Left for Sydney by Train
6th Day (9th of July)
- Arrived in Sydney
- Took part in the Bersih 2.0 rally @ Townhall, Sydney. 250 people attended the rally. Save Malaysia sold all their remaining t-shirts at the rally. Jade Lee & Tan Bun Teet were given a slot to speak at the closing moments of the event.
- Left for KLIA, Kuala Lumpur @ 9.40pm (Local Time)
IMAGE GALLERY (Prepared by Steve Hang):
(Photos by: Lim Choong Kiow, Steve Hang, Jonathan Wong, Noor Jehan Abu Bakar, Clement Chin & Grace Lee)