Determined Residents Going Bald to Protest Against the Lynas Rare Earth Refinery Project in Malaysia
Seventeen residents young and old, braved the morning shower to have their hair shaven off in public by a team of professional air stylists this morning. The ritual is part of a series of public actions organised by Himpunan Hijau 2.0 leading up to the major national rally on 26th February against Australia’s Lynas rare earth refinery plant and to call for a greener future for Malaysia.
Winson Ooi who spearheaded the ritual remarked “As a father and a citizen who cares about the future, I initiated this ritual to show others that we need to sacrifice a part of us in order to fight the toxic Lynas rare earth project.”
“In our tradition, shaving all of our hair off is a highly symbolic and serious act to show one’s strong feeling and sacrifice to mark one’s determination for a worthy cause. I have to do this for my family!” Added Winson.
Winson was accompanied by his young son Li Yan in the ritual. When asked, Li Yan said shyly and quietly, “I want the rare earth plant to leave and to get out!”
Amongst the sixteen are parents, grandparents, vegetable farmer, office workers and businessmen of all walks of life. The atmosphere was sombre.
Bystanders and public supporters were upset by the Malaysian Government’s granting of the conditional temporary operating licence to Lynas Corporate, raising fear that the polluting rare earth processing may soon begin.
“So many of the village folks who live along the river and fish from the South China Sea will be affected if Lynas starts to operate. Young children who play in the river and seaside will be exposed to the contaminated water from the Lynas plant.” Explained Nasrun Amir, a resident with extensive links with the Malay fisher communities near the Lynas plant.
“I cannot stand by to watch this happens to village people who feel powerless and helpless to stop the project. As my hair was falling, I felt a deep sense of injustice, anger and disappointment with the authorities for their failure to do their job to protect the people and their livelihoods.” Lamented Nasrun.
Following today’s ritual, the various religious groups – Muslims, Christian and Buddhist - will be staging their respective group prayer sessions for peace, sustainability and harmony with nature.
Next Sunday on 26th February from 9.30 to 11.00am, thousands of people from all over Kuantan will be joined by their interstates and country supporters at a big rally to be held in the middle of the town. Bus loads of supporters are expected from around the country including those coming from as far as the Eastern Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak to take part. All around the country, local actions will be held in various states including a solidarity action by the people who fought a hard battle to force the closure of Malaysia’s first rare earth processing plant near the town of Ipoh in the neighbouring state of Perak.
The professional hair stylists who supported the event