SMSL’s chairman Tan Bun Teet also announced that the July 14 rally will feature a “symbolic” voting exercise. — Picture by Choo Choy May
KUALA LUMPUR, July 6 — “Save Malaysia, Stop Lynas” (SMSL) will be holding simultaneous rallies in Malaysia and Australia next Saturday as part of its campaign against Sydney-based Lynas Corp’s controversial rare earth plant in Gebeng, Kuantan.
“We are holding a nationwide ‘Call to Action’ rally,” said SMSL’s chairman Tan Bun Teet, adding that the theme is “We will vote for a cleaner and safer future.”
“Now we are telling people the votes in your hands are so important. It can help determine whether Lynas goes on,” he added, noting that the rallies aim to educate the public in addition to articulating the group’s demands.
He said the July 14 rally will feature a “symbolic” voting exercise.
However, Tan clarified that the rally’s theme is not a “subtle threat” aimed at any political party, saying that rally-goers will be casting a mock vote to show if they are “for Lynas or (want to) stop Lynas.”
In relation to the elections, Tan said, “We will vote for any party that will stop Lynas”, explaining that they will not “rule out voting for Barisan Nasional” if the ruling coalition can represent the people’s interests.
The July 14 rally will take place from 5pm to 6.30pm in 10 states in Malaysia and the three Australian cities of Sydney, Perth and Melbourne.
Lynas has faced fierce protests from local residents and opposition politicians who say that the Kuantan plant will cause radiation pollution despite the company insisting it has met and exceeded local and international safety standards.
Himpunan Hijau, another anti-Lynas movement, had on June 23 held a 24-hour protest near the Lynas plant itself.
Last month, Lynas appeared to have cleared a major hurdle to getting its Temporary Operating Licence (TOL) after a parliamentary select committee (PSC) called for the licence to be issued as “scientific facts” show that the controversial Kuantan plant is safe.
Four days before the positive feedback in the PSC report, the Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry (Mosti) dismissed an appeal against the plant by Kuantan residents and instead imposed two conditions that Lynas said it would have no problems satisfying.
Last week, the Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) confirmed that it has not issued the TOL.
AELB said that Lynas must first fulfil Mosti’s two conditions of submitting a plan to immobilise radioactive elements in its waste and coming up with an emergency response plan on dust control.
It also said that Lynas would have to send back all residue to Australia if it cannot be recycled into commercial products or if a location for a permanent disposal facility (PDF) in Malaysia cannot be determined or approved.
Residents who failed in the Mosti appeal have said they will challenge the minister’s decision in court, calling the conditions “flimsy” and “not specific enough and will in no way safeguard or appease the fears of residents living in the area.”
Lynas had previously said it was on track to fire up what it says will be the world’s largest rare earth plant within weeks after Datuk Seri Khaled Nordin, chairman of the PSC, called it “the safest rare earth plant in the world.”
It also said in April that delays in obtaining the licence for its facility, which was initially approved in January, may have “very serious consequences” for the RM80 billion worth of rare earth orders already received as it is “sold out for the next 10 years.”