Voters in a mock referrendum has overwhelmingly rejected the RM700 million Lynas Advanced Material Plant in Gebeng, Kuantan.
Organised by NGO Stop Lynas, Save Malaysia (SMSL), the mock voting was carried out in 19 cities and towns across Malaysia.The results, which was announced close to 9pm, saw landslide votes against the rare earth processing plant with some centres having virtually zero vote in support for Lynas.When contacted, SMSL spokesperson Steve Hang said after all ballots have been counted, a total of 20,194 people voted against Lynas, while six were in favour."
A total of 28 locations in Malaysia participated but only 19 places held the mock voting. The other areas had signature campaign, pickets and even flash mob," he said.Hang added that an estimated a total of 26,000 people nationwide had participated in the ‘National Day of Stop Lynas Action’.Four cities in Australia had also joined in with their own protest against Lynas, he added.Voting began simultaneously today at around 5pm for most areas in Malaysia while the earliest was in Bukit Merah, Perak where voting took place from 7am to 9am.
Bukit Merah was the site of the Asian Rare Earth plant which has been accused of causing an increase of cancer cases in the 1990s among the local populace.Queuing up at the mock voting centres, voters of various age and colour in towns and villages dropped their ‘yes’ or ‘no’ vote on Lynas into prepared ballot boxes.'Vote matters'When contacted, SMSL chairperson Tan Bun Teet said the results reflected the sentiments of the people against the controversial plant, which is seen as a crucial facility to break China's stranglehold on the rare earth market.
However, he added that regardless of the results, the mock referendum today was to send to a message to Malaysians about the significance of their votes."Our focus is not actually on how many people voted against or for Lynas. Our focus is teaching people that the vote in their hand counts and really matters.
"We hope people who voted today will realise that the act of voting is important to ensure whether we live in a hazard-free environment or do we continue to vote a government that does not care about the welfare of the people," he said.He added that the many locations which conducted the voting today were also afflicted by environmental issues and are part of a network of the green movement.